“Over the past 42 years, England’s Men have been the number one ranked Test team in the world for a total of 12 months, and 50-over number one for 64 months,” Strauss wrote. “In T20 cricket, we have held the top spot for 748 days since the inception of those rankings in 2011.
“At the moment, we aren’t top in any format. So we want to set an ambitious and clear goal – to become the best in the world at all formats of the men’s game within the next five years.
“It’s extremely ambitious because we’ve never done it before. But why can’t it be achievable? What’s stopping us – and what else could help us get there? That’s what I want our high-performance review to consider.”
From within cricket, the ECB’s panel includes Rob Key, England men’s director of cricket, and Durham’s Marcus North, alongside Daryl Mitchell from the PCA and Mo Bobat, the ECB’s performance director.
From outside the game, Strauss has also secured the expert input of Kate Baker, director of performance at UK Sport; Simon Timson, Manchester City’s performance director; Dan Ashworth, the former FA director of elite development, and Penny Hughes, the ex-chair of Aston Martin.
However, Brailsford – who is currently the director of the professional cycling team Ineos Grenadiers – is arguably the most prominent name on the panel. Strauss has long been an admirer of his “marginal gains” philosophy, and adopted many of those principles on England’s victorious Ashes tour of 2010-11.
Brailsford’s reputation within cycling was recently tarnished, however, when his ex-colleague, Dr Richard Freeman – the former doctor at British Cycling and Team Sky – was found by a medical tribunal to have ordered testosterone “knowing or believing” it was to be used to improve the performance of one of the team’s riders.
“I wanted to find experts in high performance whatever that field, some who’ve been in the spotlight, others who’ve been in the background generating high-performance programmes or systems,” Strauss added. “Some with cricket knowledge and expertise, others from a wider sporting background. People with different experiences, who have undergone different journeys, but all of whom we can learn from. And people who are all keen to help cricket.”
Strauss added that views would also be sought from cricket’s supporters, and that the whole process would have oversight from a group of first-class county chairs. The remit of the review will not, however, take in the international schedule, nor will it tackle the specifics of the domestic calendar until the remodelled structures have been put in place.
“I read a lot of speculation about the domestic competition structure. Of course, this is an important part of the picture, but it’s not the only part,” Strauss added. “The review is designed to look at the high-performance system in its entirely, including the England men’s pathway and our high performance set-up.
“And let’s be clear – we have no pre-built solution. At this stage the project is only just starting. There are no hidden agendas. I wouldn’t be bothering to carry out a review if I was already sitting here with specific proposals for change.”