DAVID East said he leaves with fond memories as a player and administrator with Essex County Cricket Club.

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The county’s chief executive severed a 30-year association with Essex when he said his goodbyes at the end of last week.

East, who is taking on the role of chief executive of Abu Dhabi Cricket Club and Emirates Cricket Board, joined Essex as a wicket-keeper-batsman in 1981.

He was part of a highly successful era that saw Essex win three county championship titles.

East played alongside legendary figures such as Keith Fletcher, Graham Gooch, John Lever, Ken McEwan and Allan Border, before his first-class career was ended through injury.

After his benefit year in 1991 he started work for fine wine merchants Lay & Wheeler in Colchester the following January and obtained a diploma in wines and spirits.

East recalled: “I worked there for four years and became selling agent for wine around the country.

“I left in 1995 and joined Paragon Vintners, who at the time were agents for verve clicquot and was looking after their champagne sales in London.”

He returned to Essex County Cricket Club as commercial manager in 1998, and two years later was appointed as chief executive.

East succeeded Peter Edwards, the club’s long-serving secretary/general manager, who died of a heart attack while on a winter tour to South Africa in January 2000.

He has overseen some challenging times for the county, with the spot-fixing scandal involving Mervyn Westfield and Pakistan overseas player Danish Kaneria tarnishing Essex’s reputation.

East said of his time as a player and an administrator: “The two have been very different roles.

“I have some great memories from my time as a player, when I was part of a fantastic side who had a lot of success during the 1980s.

“Equally being involved on the administration side for the last 14 years there have been some real high points as well, such as when we won the Friends Provident Trophy a few years back – it is a fantastic feeling to win a one-day trophy at Lord’s.

“There are different pressures with being chief executive, where I have been responsible for the whole organisation, to those as a player where you are just looking after your own performance on the pitch.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed both sides of it, but I am now ready for a new challenge.”

Essex are in the process of recruiting a successor to East, and the successful applicant will become only the county’s third chief executive in the last 33 years.

Tomorrow - David East on how county cricket has changed in recent years

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