If you were upset about Durham’s relegation from the county championship last year, you’d better have your thermometer ready. This story is going to make your blood boil.
According to the Northern Echo, Durham’s Academy has just been rated as the finest in the country by the ECB. That’s the same ECB who threw the book at the county for accumulating debts that are actually lower than the main beneficiaries of their demotion, Hampshire.
This latest round of academy evaluations will give plenty of ammunition to angry Durham fans – and indeed the thousands of cricket fans around the country who were appalled by the ECB’s draconian punishment.
After all, as Durham have the best academy, it could be argued that (a) they do more for English cricket than any other county, and (b) they’re the model the ECB would like other counties to follow (albeit perhaps not from a financial standpoint).
Here’s a few facts from the Echo to chew over:
75% of Durham’s first team have graduated from their academy
16 academy graduates played first class cricket for Durham last year
13 academy graduates played list A limited overs cricket for Durham last year
Durham’s academy squad won the North Eastern Premier League T20 competition last year
Three Durham graduates (Jack Burnham, Adam Hickey and Josh Coughlin) represented England U19.
Despite Durham’s financial woes – a crisis which wasn’t all their fault remember – it’s pretty clear that Durham are doing an awful lot right. Keaton Jennings, who made a century on debut for England, is a Durham lad (albeit with South African blood). Ben Stokes is also Durham through and through. Consequently, it makes the ECB’s decision to relegate them seem even harsher.
What’s more, it’s noticeable that Durham have decided to eschew the ‘kolpak rush’ ahead of Brexit. They’ve signed the South African opener Stephen Cook but only as an overseas players. It sounds like their commitment to producing talented young English players is undiminished – despite being kicked in the jatz crackers by the ECB’s poisoned boot.
Hampshire, on the other hand, have signed two kolpak players in Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, and will presumably sign an overseas player too. I don’t want to have a go at Hampshire in particular, as I have a number of friends who support the county, but it’s certainly food for thought.
PS Thanks to Carol Durkin for bringing this story to my attention.