Steve Elworthy relishing role at Surrey CCC
Steve Elworthy spent 14 years at the England and Wales Cricket Board, in various roles, before becoming Surrey’s new chief executive in January – and, after his first six months in the job, says the experience has so far exceeded even his expectations.
“I thought I knew Surrey pretty well, because I’d dealt with the club on very many occasions in my time at ECB,” said Elworthy. “I also admired Surrey a lot, and knew them as an excellently-run club, as a result of all my dealings with them during my involvement in the major global tournaments we ran, such as the 2019 World Cup.
“I had also done quite a bit of research ahead of the interview process that took place before I was appointed here, but even so I don’t think I really appreciated the true size and scale of this club and the wider commercial business run at the Kia Oval.
“In short, my first half year here has been everything I expected, but also I’d say more again on top of that. It has been hugely enjoyable and, in a relatively short time, it’s been very clear just how many people are unbelievably loyal to Surrey as a county cricket club. Their pride in it and love for it comes through with every email, letter and call I receive from members and supporters.”
Elworthy, who won four Test and 39 ODI caps for South Africa in a 16-year playing career, was in Cricket South Africa’s commercial department when he became tournament director for the successful inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007.
His subsequent administrative career has included running further global tournaments for ECB and ICC, working in marketing and communications, and master-minding the bio-secure Covid bubbles at Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl that allowed ECB to host Test series against West Indies and Pakistan in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
But Elworthy says it is the chance to “talk cricket again” with those running Surrey’s men’s and women’s teams that he is also relishing, while being able to lead the club forward in terms of the sustainability, equality, diversity and inclusivity issues that have markedly changed English cricket’s landscape in the wake of Covid, the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal and the clear need for greater opportunity within the game’s pathways.
“Cricket in this country is going through seismic change in many areas,” added Elworthy. “The world has changed, too, in recent years and it is vital, as a club, that we redefine ourselves as a social enterprise with a far stronger impact within our local community. The success of the ACE programme, under Ebony Rainford-Brent, is the start of this process.
“I am also proud of the numbers of people we attracted to The Kia Oval for this season’s Vitality Blast, despite the fixture list being released three months late in February, the group matches then starting too early in the season and, at one stage, having to host three games in six days. We also had one group match that coincided with a rail strike, and we still managed to get The Kia Oval fifty per cent full for the quarter-final despite having just three days to sell tickets for that extra game.
“But we had two full house crowds for the fixtures against Middlesex and Kent, and across eight T20 games, including the quarter-final, our total attendances were just under 110,000. This was a great effort because every pound we make is invested back into our business, whether it is to improve our ground and facilities or to develop our cricketers and increase our community presence.”