Thompson new chairman of English cricket's ECB
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Thompson, 55, had long been regarded as one of the leading candidates to succeed Watmore, giving his record of financial and sporting success at Surrey.
The founder of the M&C Saatchi Merlin talent agency, Thompson will lead the ECB's ongoing response to the racism scandals that have rocked the English game in the last year following former spinner Azeem Rafiq's revelations of abuse while playing for Yorkshire.
"Cricket should be the most inclusive sport in the country, welcoming people from all backgrounds, helping bring communities together," Thompson said in a statement.
"For those communities where we have fallen short, I will work tirelessly to restore their trust in the game."