Tim Lamb bears the brunt of Zimbabwe fiasco

Published: Thursday, May 27, 2004, 23:10 [IST]
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London:Tim Lamb, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), is to leave his job in a move widely linked to his handling of the crisis over whether England should play matches in Zimbabwe.

Lamb, 51, had also been at odds with chairmen of the English Counties over proposals to restructure the domestic game from 2006.

But it was his perceived mishandling of the protracted Zimbabwe saga which did most to undermine his position in the run-up to Thursday's announcement that he would step down in September, after helping to organise the Champions Trophy tournament.

During last year's World Cup in South Africa, England's then-captain Nasser Hussain claimed the players had been "hung out to dry" by the ECB's failure to take a decision on whether they should play a match in Harare.

Lamb had to take the blame for that and the fact that, 15 months later, the ECB are still prevaricating about whether England should go ahead with a scheduled tour of Zimbabwe later this year.

Although the British Government opposes the tour in view of the abuses of Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe, the ECB looks like it will have little option but to send a team following a change in the International Cricket Council (ICC)'s rules.

New sanctions introduced earlier this year mean the ECB could be bankrupted if it fails to honour its commitment to tour.

Lamb's failure to anticipate the ICC's move to change the rules is one of the issues which has led to questioning of his leadership, although it could be argued there was little he could have done differently.

Lamb had been in his job for more than seven years and the most disappointing aspect of his departure will be that it comes at a time when the fortunes of the national team have taken a distinct turn for the better.

In the wake of a first series in the West Indies for 36 years this winter, England made a good start to their summer schedule by winning the first Test against New Zealand on Monday.

But Lamb said he felt it would be better if a new figurehead was brought in.

"I feel that after nearly eight years in the role I have probably taken the ECB as far as I can. As the organisation moves into the next phase of its development with a revised strategic plan and new challenges to face, its time to move on and hand over the reins to someone else," he said.

Along with former chairman Lord MacLaurin, Lamb was responsible for introducing a two-tier County championship and England's central contract system.

"Its a high-intensity role that has demanded my total focus and commitment for a considerable period of time now," Lamb added.

"Sometimes, if youre not careful, the job can almost take over your life completely, and inevitably there have been sacrifices that have needed to be made from both a personal and a family point of view.

"I still feel that I have plenty to offer, but I think now is the time to stand aside before I risk losing any of my motivation or enthusiasm."

ECB chairman David Morgan paid tribute to Lamb's achievements, which include a near doubling in income during his time in charge.

"He will leave behind a solid base on which his successor will be able to work to develop the business," Morgan said.

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