England and Wales Cricket Board - Governance Improvement Programme

27 April 2021

Background

Prompted in part by a transformational change in its income thanks to a five-year broadcast media deal, the ECB resolved to improve its governance, for three key reasons.

  • Most ECB board members were chairs of county cricket organisations and directly elected by ECB members. This meant there were perceived conflicts of interest between directors’ own organisations and the ECB.

  • As the ECB grew, so did the importance of its board having the right mix of skills and experience. The election process made it difficult to ensure such a balance and rotation of skills.

  • The extra income triggered a requirement to comply with the high standards set out in Sport England’s Code for Governance.

Programme

There were three elements of GGI’s review.

  • Interviews – GGI conducted structured interviews with a range of senior stakeholders from across the ECB and throughout the recreational and first-class game.

  • Benchmarking – GGI compared ECB governance with 11 sporting and professional bodies from around the world, including Cricket Australia, which was also in the process of moving from a representative, state-based model to a skills-based board.

  • Documentation review – GGI studied ten key ECB documents, including the directors’ handbook, the terms of reference for various committees and its articles of association.

Outcomes

The outcome was a series of 14 recommendations encompassing board representation, skills and experience, diversity, regulation and compliance, and independent assessment. The ECB embraced all 14 recommendations.

Within six months of our review, 30% of board members were women, 30% were fully independent directors with specialist expertise, and 40% were rooted in the game of cricket.

All new directors now go through an extensive induction process, which gives them a good working knowledge of the ECB and the wider business of cricket. They are also given a handbook filled with important information such as an overview of ECB corporate governance, directors’ roles and responsibilities, board processes and procedures and the code of conduct and conflict of interest policy.

There is a new annual internal performance evaluation process, offering board members a chance to assess their performance, both individually and corporately. This includes appraisals of each board member – including the chair – and of the board as a whole.

And the board reviewed the structure and processes of its sub-committees, making some key changes. As well as the new governance committee, the board appointed former England captain Sir Andrew Strauss as chair of its cricket committee, restructured its regulatory committee, and developed a new professional game group to consider issues affecting the first-class game.

“I am extremely proud of the changes we’ve made to our governance processes. We knew we needed to update our approach and reshape the board to embrace different backgrounds and viewpoints – both from inside and outside the game – to help us make good decisions. What we were less clear on was exactly what needed to change and how to change it. “With their broad perspective on governance across many sectors and regions, the GGI team were the perfect partners for this exercise. Their input was invaluable, helping us to find a way through the complicated process of bringing our governance up to date and ensuring we’re in the best possible shape to deliver our central mission of raising standards at all levels and attracting more players and spectators to this wonderful sport.”

David Mahoney

Chief Operating Officer