Saturday, 10 March 2018

Nash resignation should rightly cause concern

The resignation of Andy Nash, the former Somerset chairman, from the ECB Board made the news this week.

Nash cited standards of corporate governance that 'fell well short of acceptable' and his explanation of his departure should send shock waves through supporters of clubs that do not have a Test ground as their headquarters.

The Times revealed that those counties with international grounds who didn't host a Test each year would get half a million pounds as a 'sweetener', something that happened without the approval, or apparently knowledge, of the ECB Board. Mr Nash felt that it was a clear indication to promote eight counties, those with Test grounds, as 'first, among equals'.

And which counties are hosting the proposed new T20? That's right, those with Test grounds.

Two years ago on this blog, I wrote that the decision to back plans for a new T20 competition was wrong. It was a decision backed by Derbyshire and other counties on the promise of patronage for grass roots cricket and  an annual share of a pie that 'promised' to be sumptuous.

I didn't buy it then and don't buy it now. Despite the worthy efforts of then county chairman Chris Grant to convince me in a lengthy interview, I have continued to feel that an eight-team T20 competition was merely an appetiser for an eight-team county championship in which the game is played on grounds of international standard, though likely in front of crowds no greater than today. It struck me as a classic case of turkeys voting for Christmas.

As I have written before on this blog, there is little wrong with county cricket as it is. Yes, we lost the Ashes, but we will win them back in this country and the answer to occasional itinerant travails remains simple. Offer more warm up matches on tour and see players actually prepared for conditions outside of a domestic season. Likewise, schedule county cricket around weekends and you will see more people attend games than when they are on from Monday to Thursday. Call me Sherlock if you will, but it is some way removed from rocket science that a cricket match will attract more supporters when people are off work than when they are busy. Sadly, it is something that years of highly-paid administrators at the ECB and its forerunners have failed to grasp.

I am some way from being content with the integrity of those in the corridors of power to do what is best for the game. Rather, they will continue to feather their nests and do what is right for them and theirs. Thus we see Yorkshire come out of this rather well, with international match allocation and hosting a T20 side, despite debts of £20 million and rising suggesting poor management.

We also see Somerset miss out, despite a letter being sent to them by Colin Graves, the ECB Chairman, suggesting they'd be alright if they backed this new competition, the inference being that they would host one of these new teams.

It didn't happen and was never likely to. Two years ago again, I wrote that the eight Test grounds would host this new competition and it needed no crystal ball or sixth sense to understand that. Whether I attend as much cricket as I would wish today or not, I follow the game avidly, as I have done for over fifty summers, and I know how the game operates.

I am totally supportive of the excellent cricket writer, George Dobell, who at times seems to stand alone against the ECB and their half-baked plans. Of course, the 'suits' have assured them that they can make this new competition work and can attract thousands upon thousands to it, people who have never shown any interest in cricket whatsoever. They are getting paid a lot of money, so are hardly going to say 'sorry, we can't do it'.

I genuinely feel that there should be an independent inquiry into the running of the ECB and what I feel is its maladministration of OUR game. It is not theirs, it is that of everyone who follows and supports a county cricket club and they have a right to see it being better served than at present.

Make sure that your voice is heard and, like me, hope that every trophy is won by a non-Test ground county, just like Essex did last year. If anyone feels that the greater needs of English cricket would be better served without the heritage and talents, past and present, of the likes of Essex, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Northamptonshire, Worcestershire, Sussex, Kent, Leicestershire, Durham and Derbyshire, they should be ashamed.

While accepting there are some decent people in the ECB, you will struggle to convince me that the role of others is anything but Machiavellian...

Mr Nash showed himself to be a man of great integrity.

May his resignation be a catalyst for change in the running of our game.

Postscript - as I posted this piece, I read that there will be no more compensation payments to Test-hosting counties. Likewise, all board members will step down in May, if they have affiliation to counties.

Perhaps, at last, a step in the right direction.

We shall see.


David Woolley said...

Well done to Mr Nash, and well done to you Peakfan for an excellent report.
Since its announcement, I have had absolutely no interest in the proposed T20 franchise, this despite my being a cricket lover for all of my life. We are simply following other Countries based on a well they've got a T20 competition, so we must have one basis.
With most of the games likely to be on SKY, I am not sure how may people will be willing to pay £20 to watch a load of international mercenaries ship up and do their best for 'The West coast warriors or the East of England eagles'.
As for the ECB, I hope your quote that Mr Nash's resignation will be the catalyst for change proves to be correct. But I assure you, I will not be holding my breath. As an organisation, the ECB lurches from one crisis to another, based upon whether England are losing an ashes series, to forming a T20 franchise that very few people want. If they were a privately run business, their shareholders would most certainly have removed them long ago.

notoveryet said...

This is probably about all that needs to be said on the whole sorry situation. Another great article by the great George Dobell, who should eventually be sainted for services to commonsense in cricket.

If anything, a little too kind to Graves, when anyone with half a brain would immediately assume the sinister rather than the innocent motive for such gross disregard for conflicts of interest. Just as a point of correction, the ECB hasn't abandoned the payments to TMG's without a test, just promised no further payments until the RCB board has agreed (sorry considered) them.

Peakfan said...

It is an excellent piece, notoveryet and it is good to hear from you . I trust you have wintered well.

You are correct in that final assertion, though my article, five days ago, was written as a tweet came out saying as I stated. This has now been clarified and amended.

As for George Dobell, he is a wonderful writer but alas ruffles too many establishment feathers for a knighthood.

He may well earn the undying gratitude of a generation of county cricket supporters for his stance on the bias and inequalities in the game.