Test Match Sofa
David East to leave Essex for Abu Dhabi
By Paul Hiscock
David East will be severing a 30-year association with Essex at the end of the year when he takes up an appointment as chief executive of Abu Dhabi Cricket Club and Emirates Cricket Board.
He joined the county in 1981 as a wicketkeeper-batsman and helped Essex to win three County Championship titles. After his nine-year first-class playing career ended through injury, he returned to the club in 1998 as commercial manager before becoming chief executive in 2000.
“It’s a huge challenge and there’s an awful lot for me to learn,” said 53-year-old East about his new appointment. “Obviously, it’s a completely new environment and I’ve got a lot of quick learning to do. It's a fantastic opportunity to develop my career internationally and it's an opportunity I couldn't miss."
East admitted that the decision to leave a county was not easy. “I’ve had a wonderful time with Essex and I've had all sorts of emotions in making this decision. Obviously, it's been a large part of my life.
“I came to the club in 1981 and, coming off the back of the county’s first 'double' in 1979, the side had matured to a situation where they had become a really strong team. I was privileged to play with some amazing players. Graham Gooch, Keith Fletcher, John Lever and Kenny McEwan were all world-class players in their own right and then, with imports like Allan Border in the 1980s, it was just a fantastic team to be playing in. Apart from the Championship titles, we also had a lot of one-day success.
“I had a break away from cricket when I finished as a player but then came back to Essex in a commercial position before I was offered the job as chief executive.”
During his tenure at the helm of Essex Cricket, he has seen the game evolve domestically at a rapid rate.
“It was in the early 2000s that we started to look at Twenty20 cricket as an innovation and there was a lot of anti-feeling towards that format of the game initially although we felt it would be a great for us,” he added. “One if the things we did was to take the decision to install floodlights and we were only the second county to do that. That paid huge dividends for us.
“Just keeping up with the pace of change has been quite challenging over the years. The ECB has made greater demands on counties – quite rightly I think – not only in terms of performance on the field but off the field as well with regards to facilities and governance and such like.”
East has also been involved in the ground development plans for Essex's Chelmsford headquarters. “It’s taken up a huge amount of my time as chief executive,“ he said. “I started that process around about 2002 and it took us three years to get to a stage where we could consider a planning application.
“There have been delays as a result of planning enquiries, banking crises and all sorts, so it’s been a fairly tortuous process but we are at least seeing light at the end of the tunnel. It looks like the first part of the development could start very soon.”
The county will shortly be instituting a recruitment process to identify East's successor.
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