On this day in 2015: Paul Downton sacked as managing director of England cricket

Paul Downton ended a torrid 14-month tenure as managing director of England cricket when he was sacked on this day in 2015.

The former Test wicketkeeper was judged to have the right mix of on-field experience and business savvy from his time in the city, but was overwhelmed by events during his turbulent reign.

Taking over from Hugh Morris, he picked up the aftermath of the brutal 2013/14 Ashes whitewash and immediately took ownership of the decision to ex-communicate star batter Kevin Pietersen, whose own relationship with the squad had fallen into disrepair.

The ECB was later forced to apologise for breaching a settlement agreement with Pietersen following comments made by Downton to BBC’s Test Match Special.

Downton’s judgement was questioned when he reappointed Peter Moores for a second stint in charge of the team despite his previous failure in the role, hailing him as the “best coach of his generation” and “the future of English cricket”.

Downton was sacked in 2015
Downton was sacked in 2015 (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Although Moores narrowly outlasted him, a dire performance at the 2015 World Cup reflected badly on both men.

New ECB chief executive Tom Harrison made the call to oust Downton while the Test team were on tour in the West Indies, declaring: “Paul is a man of great integrity. Today has been a very tough day for the ECB and we’ve made a tough decision on a highly respected member of staff.

“Today is about the future of cricket. Today is about where this organisation is set to go over the next four to five years.”

The brief for Downton’s job was tightened and rebranded, attracting a more current figure in the shape of recent Test captain Andrew Strauss. With a renewed emphasis on elite performance, he replaced Moores with Trevor Bayliss and set the groundwork for England’s World Cup triumph in 2019.

Downton’s career in administration would get a second chapter, though, returning as director of cricket at his former county, Kent.

His time at Canterbury proved more productive, overseeing promotion to Division One of the County Championship in his first year and subsequent titles in the T20 and 50-over formats. He retired at the end of the 2023 campaign amid plentiful praise for his work.