ECB: Paul Downton leaves ECB role after dismal World Cup

Paul Downton
Paul Downton is a former England, Middlesex and Kent wicketkeeper and also worked in the city

Paul Downton has left his post as managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Downton, 58, was instrumental in the sacking of former England captain Kevin Pietersen in February 2014.

Former England wicketkeeper Downton also axed Alastair Cook as one-day captain in December before the team's disastrous World Cup display.

The ECB is to create a new role of 'Director of England cricket' as England build towards an Ashes series.

Head coach Peter Moores - appointed to the role for a second time by Downton - and national selector James Whitaker remain in place.

In a statement, chief executive Tom Harrison said the ECB needed to be "accountable for reaching the standards we aspire to".

Harrison said Wednesday's decision "does not impact" on the position of Moores or Test captain Cook.

Simon Hughes, BBC Test Match Special analyst
On Downton: "He was handed an impossible job. He is a fantastic bloke but he was out of his depth. I think he was caught out by the speed and movement of the media and the way the game has moved on."
On Pietersen: "If he scores buckets of runs for Surrey, he makes a case. England have been playing tame cricket and have missed an aggressive type of player. If Kevin makes a case for himself, then there is a possibility."
Listen to Hughes on BBC Radio 5 live

He later told Sky Sports that Downton's exit was not about the Pietersen "issue", adding: "This is about the future of the game. It is not a short-term fix to a problem."

When asked for his thoughts on the decision, Pietersen tweeted:external-link "None right now! Let me just work hard and try score a lot of runs."

Downton took over from his predecessor Hugh Morris in February 2014.

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen's last innings for England was at Sydney in January 2014 - he was sacked a month later

He was central to the sacking of Pietersen, 34, shortly after the 2013-14 Ashes series, which Australia won 5-0. Downton said that the "time is right to rebuild not only the team but also the team ethic".

Pietersen then released an autobiography in October 2014 in which he heavily criticised key ECB figures and England players.

Downton said "more bridges have been burnt", while Whitaker said there was "no way" Pietersen would return to the side.

The Jonathan Agnew verdict:
"Two of the names mentioned for the England director role - Alec Stewart and Andrew Strauss - could have a major say in the next instalment of what happens with Pietersen. Strauss, given his history with KP, will probably take a lot of convincing that he should return to the fold. With Stewart, KP'ss coach at Surrey, it might be a bit more straightforward."
Read more

However, ECB chairman-elect Colin Graves suggested Pietersen could return as long as he "scores a lot of runs" in county cricket.

Pietersen, who wants to return to the international fold, rejoined Surrey for the 2015 county season in attempt to boost his chances.

Moores said last week that Pietersen "isn't on the radar" as England prepare for the three-Test series in West Indies starting on 13 April.

England's performances during Downton's reign
Feb/Mar 2014: Beat West Indies in one-day series 2-1 but lose subsequent T20s by same scoreline
Mar 2014: Knocked out of T20 World Cup before semi-finals, losing final match to Netherlands
May/Jun 2014: Lose one-off T20 international, one-day and Test series to Sri Lanka
Aug 2014: Beat India 3-1 in Test series, but then lose one-dayers 3-1
Dec 2014: Beaten 5-2 in one-day series by Sri Lanka
Feb 2015: Reach Tri-Series final but lose to Australia
Mar 2015: Knocked out of World Cup at group stage