Des Wilson has quit his post with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after failing to convince members to take a tougher stance on Zimbabwe.
"I really thought I could make some difference," said Wilson, who was chairman of the ECB's Corporate Affairs and Marketing Advisory Committee.
Wilson wanted England to abort their 2004 tour to Zimbabwe on moral grounds but failed to win sufficient backing.
England could be fined £50m and banned from world cricket for failing to tour.
Wilson added: "They [the ECB] liked the idea of someone coming in with fresh ideas but when it came to putting them into action, they don't like the reality."
He was also scathing in his criticism of the International Cricket Council.
"The fact is the ECB has been placed in an intolerable position by the ICC," he said.
"The ICC's malevolent enforcement of its international tours programme with draconian and disproportionate penalties would devastate the English game, forcing the ECB itself into insolvency and bankrupting up to a third of the first-class counties."
ECB chairman David Morgan said Wilson's resignation had been accepted with regret.
He said: "Clearly there is a difference of opinion between Des and most other members of the board over our strategy towards the Zimbabwe tour.
"The ECB does not share his views over the role he alleges the ICC has played in this extremely difficult issue."
Former ECB chairman Lord MacLaurin told BBC Radio Five Live, he supported Wilson's decision to resign.
Lord MacLaurin said: "I have known Des for a long time and I admire him greatly.
"He is a man of high principle and I would fully support his decision to go.
"I think the ICC have got quite a serious problem in dealing with Zimbabwe.
"As things stand at the moment and if the ECB decided they would not go on moral grounds, they would have some quite severe financial penalties from the ICC for not fulfilling the tour.
"That would be very crippling for English cricket.
"I think we have got to watch the situation very very closely.
"I know the ECB are well on top of it. It's a very difficult situation for them but I do believe now, because of the situation that's developing in Zimbabwe, with the top players refusing to play, the ICC can't stand idly aside and just say it's nothing to do with us.
"It clearly is something to do with them, and I have no doubt they are talking with their fellow ICC council members."