Durham’s Punishment Is Disproportionate and Disgraceful

Every time I try to give the ECB the benefit of the doubt, they do something new that leaves me disgusted. I don’t agree with much our administrators do – I loathed their part in the big three ICC coup and have doubts about their new city-based T20 competition – but I usually try to see things from multiple points of view. For example, when they removed live cricket from free to air television I opposed the move but understood the lure of Murdoch’s money. This time, however, I feel nothing but bewilderment. To punish Durham in such a draconian and arbitrary fashion is beyond my comprehension.

I think we all knew the ECB would punish Durham – even though the county’s problems stem from decisions made by the ECB themselves – but I certainly didn’t expect a punishment so severe: automatic relegation, 48 championship points docked, 4 NatWest Blast points docked, 2 Royal London Cup points docked, plus their ability to stage test matches stripped. It’s goes beyond harsh. It’s almost vindictive.

I understand that the ECB wants to draw a line in the sand, make an example of Durham, and show other counties that financial problems won’t be tolerated, but the punishment shows a complete lack of empathy. It also represents a total refusal to acknowledge the broader context of Durham’s problems. As a result the board have come across as intransigent, arrogant, and just plain mean.

What’s particularly galling is that the ECB have tried to present themselves as Durham’s shining white knight – the benevolent saviours who have saved the county from oblivion by bailing them out to the tune of £3.8 million. This is incredibly disingenuous. Let’s just get one thing straight here. Durham are in trouble because (a) they were forced to build an international class stadium as a condition of being awarded first class status back in 1992, and (b) they’ve been forced to bid for test matches that have subsequently made big losses. How much has all this cost the county over the years? I’d wager it’s quite a lot more than £3.7 million. It’s the ECB’s ridiculous bidding system for international matches (it can cost over £2 million to buy staging rights for a one off test) that’s at fault here. There’s no suggestion whatsoever that Durham have run into difficulties due to financial mismanagement.

Some might argue that Durham deserve relegation, because the ECB’s financial support gave them an unfair advantage over Hampshire and Notts. I simply cannot agree with this assessment. It’s not like Durham have a Manchester City style wage bill. Three years ago Durham were forced to halve (yes halve!) their wage bill to cut their cloth accordingly. The fact they’ve still managed to compete in division one, and produced the likes of Ben Stokes and Mark Wood in the process, despite having less money than their rivals, is highly admirable. They’ve been the poor relations (in a literal sense) of division one for a while. If anything they’ve been at a competitive disadvantage.

What many people don’t realise is that Durham aren’t the only county who have amassed big debts. For example, did you know that Yorkshire’s debts are four times as big? Colin Graves seems to have forgotten this. What’s more, Warwickshire borrowed £20 million from the local council a couple of years ago but have already had to restructure their repayment plan. Durham’s big mistake, it seems, is that they owed money to the ECB – a consequence of being unable to pay their staging fee for the test against Sri Lanka in May. If you thought the ECB might be a sympathetic lender, think again folks.

Durham should also feel aggrieved because their punishment is so disproportionate compared to similar offences in the past. When Glamorgan were unable to pay their £2 million staging fee for the Sri Lanka test in 2011, the ECB (then led by David Collier) took a far more sympathetic view. They recognised that Glamorgan’s problems stemmed in part from all the work they’d done on their stadium, so they were simply stripped of the rights to stage a test against the Windies the following summer. Why were Glamorgan treated leniently yet Durham absolutely hammered? The situations aren’t exactly the same, of course, and Glamorgan didn’t require a £3.7 million bailout, but it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow.

The main beneficiaries of Durham’s relegation, of course, are Hampshire. A cynic might believe that their high-profile chairman, Rod Bransgrove, has been campaigning for this outcome for a while. He even released a statement on the Hampshire website praising the new city-based T20 competition – a move which surely would have endeared him to Harrison and Graves. After years of rattling the ECB’s cage whenever he thought Hampshire had been treated unfairly, fans up north might think that Rod has finally learned how to play politics.

It’s interesting, of course, that Hampshire rather than Kent are the county who will play division one cricket next season. As the team that finished second in division two, Kent would have been promoted any other year. However, they missed out due to the ECB’s plan to reduce division one to eight teams (another controversial decision) with two teams being relegated and only one promoted. Kent fans might argue with some justification that Hampshire were found wanting in division one this year and deserved to be relegated. Kent, on the other hand, deserved an opportunity to see if they could be more competitive than a Hants team that won just two games out sixteen. I wonder what they made of this outcome, and Bransgrove’s posturing, down at Canterbury?

Today is a sad, sad day for English cricket. A county have been relegated, deducted points in three competitions, and prevented from staging future test matches, because they’ve been operating in a world that the ECB, through a series of short-sighted decisions, have created. It’s not Durham’s fault that the ECB made them build an expensive stadium in a distant northern realm; it’s not Durham’s fault that they’ve had to bid millions to stage matches that were always likely to make a loss; neither is it Durham’s fault that county cricket has been declining for many years – something caused, at least in part, by the ECB’s decision to remove all live cricket from terrestrial TV.

It’s also a sad, sad day for Durham’s players, who performed relatively well this year. They won five championship games (three more than Hants) yet they’ll be forced to play division two cricket next year. Their jobs might be at risk too. Did the ECB even consider the impact on Durham’s staff? If they did, they obviously thought they were less important than punishing a county for the strategic mistakes the board themselves have made.

Sometimes I just don’t understand the mindset of those who govern English cricket. They seem as aloof, out-of-step and dispassionate as ever. When trying to come to terms with today’s events, I wondered whether the ECB handed out such a severe penalty because they wanted to give the impression that Durham were the sole architects of their own downfall – thus distracting the masses from the broader context of the county’s plight.  If this is true, I hope they’re sorely mistaken.

Cricket followers are a canny lot. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years it’s never to trust the ECB, and certainly never to trust their judgement. Durham’s relegation seems like another almighty miscalculation to me. What do you think?

James Morgan

* Update. According to The Independent, private investors tried to take over Durham earlier this year (a move which would’ve cleared many of their debts) but the ECB encouraged the county to reject this bid and accept their own bailout instead. Apparently Durham understood this might mean sanctions from the ECB, but I’m sure they didn’t expect the punishment to be so severe. Durham are furious behind the scenes. Many suspect the ECB are doing this to frighten other counties into accepting their city-based T20 competition (which will open a new revenue stream). The plot thickens.

** Further update. The Kent chairman, George Kennedy, is considering his position following the ECB’s decision to keep Hants in division one. He says he’s losing confidence in the ECB and therefore his job is becoming increasingly difficult. Apparently he found out that Kent wouldn’t be promoted through a journalist, rather than the ECB itself. Incredible.


  • I have no doubt the ECB are the ones who’ve yet again made questionable decisions purely out of financial greed. However !! I have no sympathy for any of the counties who are in debt and who, if we saw the wage bill pay mega waves to staff, administrators, executives and bang average players (including expenses for all). I sure all the counties could and should cut their cloths accordingly. Do they really need to bring no hoper players on expenses to play 2xi cricket ?? Nope. Do they need to Fund all those jnrs who you know won’t make I.. Does the county really need to pay that exec/analyst that much money ??

    • Given that Durham had the lowest wage bill of both divisions its not really applicable. They havent signed a player from another county since 2007 (Ian Blackwell) and only had John Hastings as overseas recently who i suspect was on a similar wage to the other players.

      If Durham have bang average players then why are so many on the England radar or have played test cricket recently. The two dont really go together

      • I read that Durham played without an overseas player this year. Hastings was going to play but pulled out through injury I think. The county couldn’t afford to replace him. Hastings has now signed for Worcestershire next year.

    • I assume you have no sympathy for Yorkshire with their 24 million debt which makes Durham’s 7 million look puny by comparison? Graves, the very man, bailed out Yorkshire “within 24 hours of bankruptcy” by setting up Trusts to bail the debt. Bransgrove bailed out his club Hampshire and managed their 10 million debt. And now his club is the beneficiary! Graves got his appointment to the ECB because of his generosity, I wonder if Hampshire has their relegation deleted because of their chairman’s generosity? No need to cut cloths if you have rich sugar daddies. But as for financial mismanagement – all guilty m’lud. Only one gets sent down though.

      • I have no sympathy for any of the counties. Monster wages paid to execs, analysts, support staff and players. If you are in debt and can’t pay it back then what you are doing isn’t good. Sure, if someone is willing to finance it all looks good but fans shoud realise it’s being bank rolled etc. Sadly, fans don’t care and will float they are the best etc

        Either way, ECB are of course a massive problem but I have no sympathy for counties, the fans (who have not exactly boycotted over payed staff etc) and certainly don’t feel for the payers who couldn’t care less as long as they get paid

  • I am staggered. A forum that I frequent is extremely angry, and not just a passionate Durham fan. Even if they come from all across the different spectrums of cricket fandom, the vast majority have had increasingly less truck with many of things the ECB have done. It should be remembered that Durham are about to lose a few of their players over the winter anyway ( Stoneman and Borthwick for two) and this was established long before this decision. As well as their punishments for next season, will the rest of their squad now be picked off by the vultures?

  • Utterly disgusted with the ECB’s decision – the saddest day in our quarter century as a first class county. Having developed eight international players in a decade, which is something the ECB are supposed to reward us for, this is the way they treat us for getting into a financial mess entirely of their own making. Even more staggering compared with the way other counties in a similar predicament have been let off or even assisted.

    I must correct you on one point though. As I remarked on your previous Durham article, the TCCB (as they were then) and Durham’s board were right to make international cricket part of our plan – we made it work for a decade thanks to sensible stewardship. But the greed of the ECB in recent years, and in particular their disingenuousness in encouraging us to increase the ground capacity on the promise of more Test cricket, only to leave us with the rubbishy May Test we have no hope of marketing, have got into this awful position.

    • Hi Garreth. There was no harm in making international cricket part of the plan, but why make this compulsory? That’s what I was getting at. I imagine Durham have always felt obliged to bid for England games even if they didn’t really want the risk.

      • Building a ground suitable for international cricket was indeed a requirement for joining the first class ranks, but think this had the best of intentions in the beginning. It was introduced in stages, when we were ready for it – our first ODI in 1999, then a historic first Test in 2003 – and in the years immediately after, we benefited from it financially. It’s the crazy bidding process of the last few years which has hit all counties hard but leaves the smaller ones much more exposed if it all goes wrong.

  • “What’s particularly galling is that the ECB have tried to present themselves as Durham’s shining white knight – the benevolent saviours who have saved the county from oblivion”.

    Which is also how they have been portraying themselves over touring Bangladesh – ignoring the facts that they’ve denied Bangladesh any fixtures in England for a whole decade, reduced Bangladesh’s income to just over 2% of ICC revenue in 2014 and have made it entirely possible Bangladesh won’t be able to play in the 2019 WC. This last one is not because Bangladesh aren’t any good but follows one from when Bangladesh knocked India out of the 2007 WC and the subsequent desire to rig the WC so that India have a load of guaranteed games (although not against Pakistan who Mr Thakur has said on the weekend India will now refuse to play in ICC tournament group stages).

    “It’s also a sad, sad day for Durham’s players, who performed relatively well this year”.

    Durham not only have one of the best records of producing players for England (although the news about Mark Wood’s ankle is very concerning again), they won the 2nd XI championship this year which suggests their production line is in very good shape. Hampshire were second bottom of the Southern Division.

  • Agree, I think Durham have been made scapegoats because of ECB’s conditions imposed when they wanted to host test matches ‘up north’. I say this to Durham – build again, continue your recruitment of local talent, run a tight ship and get yourselves back to a position of strength – without any ECB money and ‘help’. Show the country and the world how good you really are and the ECB be damned!

    • The problem is, its very difficult to run a tight ship and make money when you are not allowed to choose which competitions you want to enter. Here in the UK we have one competition that makes money for the counties, one that just about breaks even, and another that makes huge, eye-watering losses.

      The ECB mandate that you’re not allowed to enter the profit making competition without also entering the loss-making competition. You’re virtually guaranteed to make a loss – but don’t worry – because they are so generous they *might* make up the difference, as long as you do exactly as they say and pretend to be really, really grateful.

      The ECB’s attitude towards counties is very much like the attitude of Kathy Bates in Misery – we’ll look after you, darling, but only if you remain tied to the bed with broken legs.

      So the counties have a choice:
      a) make huge losses, rely on the “generosity” of a sugar daddy or the ECB to keep you solvent, as long as they feel like it
      b) give up

  • I’m an Australian who has read your blog for some time with interest. This is the first time I can remember feeling so saddened by a decision from the ECB that I have felt the need to comment. Durham’s captain, as you know, is Paul Collingwood. He is a man who has always had my utmost respect. While I disagreed with his opinions in the past on occasion, I have never doubted that they have always been based on what advances the interests of cricket, not the interests of Paul Collingwood. Like you James, I try to perceive the ECB fairly. But the point is that I can’t think of an ECB administrator I hold in as high regard as Collingwood because decisions like these give at least the strong impression that they didn’t think of the best interests of cricket first. The kindest thing I can say for the ECB is if this is truly a decision made in the best interests of cricket, then the people who made have made a truly ghastly mistake.

    • Thanks Pottsy, and welcome. It’s interesting to note that Collingwood himself has expressed dismay at the decision but also blamed Durham’s administrators for letting things get this bad. I doubt he’d want to anger the ECB because he’ll have ambitions to coach England one day I’m sure.

  • I NEVER give the ECB the benefit of the doubt. Never. They are the most ghastly bunch of people and they are all out to feather their own nests. I loathe all MPs cor the same reason after over forty years of watching the political,process. The ECB now join their club.

  • One point I didn’t raise that was mentioned by George Dobell’s piece on cricinfo, is that the ECB could be doing this to scare counties into supporting their city based T20 competition. They’re basically saying ‘look what will happen if you get into debt, so you’d better support our idea to create a new revenue stream’.

  • I agree with all of this, but you miss one point. Hampshire have themselves benefitted substantially from debt written off. By none other than Rod Bransgrove. Equally, Yorkshire have benefitted from Colin Graves’ largesse. Glamorgan’s debts in similar circumstances were ultimately borne by the taxpayer. Whilst I am happy for those counties, there is, at the very least, a degree of inconsistency here. Are Durham being punished for toeing the ECB line, then failing to find a sugar daddy (ECB approved, presumably) to bail them out for doing so?

  • Personally I think this is all part of an rapacious ECB masterplan to drive some counties to the wall, so they end up with fewer teams that better fit a more marketable franchise model. The “City” T20 is the thin end of this wedge. With someone like the mendacious, grasping Tom Harrison in charge, what else would you expect?

    I’ve supported Hampshire since the Marshall and Greenidge days. Althought they’re the beneficiaries of this shameful episode, suffice to say it gives me no pleasure whatsover.

  • Why did Durham bid for the Sri Lanka game? The ECB undoubtedly have gone from one management failure to another over the last 10 years, but totally unanswerable to anyone. However Durham have made mistakes as well and have benefited from a playing perspective with the amount of trophies they’ve won and should be punished, but it’s just inconsistent I guess because the other counties didn’t bother ECB members from their afternoon slumbers to have to deal with these pesky counties.

    The way cricket has been managed at the top of the game in this country is beyond disgusting. What sort of organisation gets their own members spend millions redeveloping grounds to then bid close to a million pounds to host a test match in early May against an opposition that doesn’t really rate high in the rival stakes and then punish that county when members of the public aren’t interested in spending £50/60/70 for a ticket?

  • As a Kent member for more than 40 years, you might expect me to be calling for my team to be promoted in place of Hampshire being ‘saved’. I don’t – whilst it would be nice for Kent to have gone up (we would any other year), I’d much rather see Durham staying up and Hants being relegated (which their on field performance warranted).

    If I were a Durham supporter I’d be spitting bricks – this decision is so unfair it verges on the corrupt (as compared to the lack of sanctions imposed on Glamorgan or Yorkshire, say, for getting in t financial trouble over the cost of staging Tests).

    Maybe it’s time for the Counties to dissolve the ECB and replace it with something actually ‘fit for purpose’?

  • The whole thing stinks. If Durham are to be punished, surely it should all be in the one season? Either you take your relegation this year and start afresh next time, or next season you get the penalties to start off. The structure of (effectively) docking 45 points for 2016 and then another 48 points in 2017 (plus the one-day extras to really rub salt in to the wounds) is manifestly unfair. It also plays in to the hands of the ECB rent-a-gob Bransgrove. All is not well at the ECB. They have acted as not only judge and jury, but also prosecuting counsel and an advisor to the accused. I would have more confidence in the governance of English cricket if Srinivasan were at the helm!

  • As a fellow Kent supporter, I agree with Giles Falconer. The ECB is not fit for purpose, (but then what sporting hierarchy in England is)?

    Money was thrown at Glamorgan in an effort to appease Welsh fans, but the same cannot be said of Durham. It appears that the north means Yorkshire and Lancashire to the ECB, and I have seen that scenario coming for several years.

    Kent have found a way, albeit slow and painful, to fix their financial issues, only to be slapped with this “2 down 1 up” policy of the ECB.

    Good luck to Durham – Sir Ian Botham has put his hand up to assist them where possible, but I’m afraid the writing is on the wall for English cricket. Their push towards 6-8 franchises is more and more obvious from the ECB every day.

    • “It appears that the north means Yorkshire and Lancashire to the ECB”.

      I think it means Edgbaston!

      • In terms of Northern test grounds doesn’t OT and Headingley cut it. OT sells out consistently.

  • James, your final point, regarding the ECB’s consideration of Durham’s staff is one which wouldn’t have been considered by the hierarchy. After all, they will argue, isn’t this the political climate in this country? Creating policies that shove people out of their jobs and onto the dole, then punishing them for not having a job, is, I’m afraid, just “pure bad luck, chaps” to bigwigs like those at the ECB!

  • Hi James. It is a terrible day for Cricket. Vengeful action by vengeful ECB. I won’t say it but it does remind me of how a player was treated. Disproportionate treatment and one has to ask the reason why? What’s innit for the ECB and their favoured few? Of course Durham has been very successful and that won’t be liked by the big guns. Shows how vindictive the ECB continue to be. Now time to look at other clubs who are in same position and ask the journos why Durham were chosen for the ECB’s worst decision award of the year.

  • “To punish Durham in such a draconian and arbitrary fashion is beyond my comprehension…”
    And also without precedent in English cricket.

    The way the ECB manages the game reminds me of the worst aspects of Ecclestone and F1.

  • Dobell has a forensic demolition of the ECB here:

    Besides, who does this decision punish? Does it punish the officials at Durham who, years ago, embarked on a course that always threatened to end this way? Hardly. Some are dead, some have moved on or retired and one of them (Gordon Hollins, once commercial director at Durham) is now chief operating officer of the professional game at the ECB….
    …Most of all, though, we can see that the arms race by which international games were allocated for a decade or more did not work. And we can see that producing players for England is not sufficiently rewarded. A club that has uncovered such gems as Mark Wood and Stokes should not be begging for help from its governing body….
    Well-governed sport is defined by events on the pitch. Increasingly in English cricket, we see decisions made in committee rooms transcending events on the field. It reflects poorly on the sport and, most of all, poorly on the administrators.

    • I thought Dobell’s piece was very good. I’ve been monitoring the Twitter accounts of many high profile journalists and relatively few have actually commented on the Durham situation. Most have simply outlined the facts without offering an opinion. It’s disappointing. Either come out and support the ECB or criticise them. Why the silence?

      • The story came out the day before England’s first tour match.

        Coincidence – or news management?

      • Mike Atherton has come out to criticise the decision in The Times. Scyld Berry in The Telegraph.

      • Yes, Atherton was pretty scathing, as was Scyld Berry.

        Vaughan, whom I heard on the radio, was feeble.

    • I understand that Kent are now taking legal advice over this issue. It may well be a long winter at Lords, fraught with tension and combative debate.

      Whilst I understand Mr Kenedy’s position, I don’t wont Kent to ruin their financial recovery by running up massive legal bills.

      Where the ECB (and FA) are concerned, I’m afraid David never wins!

  • The main issue is Colin Graves. As the Yorkshire chairman he personally underwrote the £9 million loan from Leeds council to Yorkshire when the county were forced to seek extended repayment terms in 2012. As ECB chairman he has a clear fiduciary duty to the ECB. My understanding of the law is that anyone with such a duty has an obligation to remove themselves from any situation causing a conflict of personal and organisational duty. Since Graves has been intimately involved in a situation with Yorkshire leading to no sanctions I would assume he should have taken no part in the ECB decision to sanction Durham. Is this the case or is he in breach of his fiduciary duty as ECB chair?

    Perhaps others with a more developed understanding of this area of law would care to comment (as well as those who may be clearer on Graves’ role in this mess).

  • I cant say I find it difficult to understand this. It is not possible to accuse the ECB of incompetence because they have so comprehensively nailed Durham to the floor. It was clearly their intention and they have done so with ruthless efficiency.

    It seems that this is an exercise in power combined with a Machiavellian plot to ensure that every county falls into line with their new T/20 proposals and anything else they might come up with in terms of downsizing the County Championship. This is bound to have a knock on effect on test cricket but they seem to care little of that.

    Like most of your correspondents it seems grossly unfair to me that Durham should be singled out to bear the brunt of these draconian and disgraceful measures. They did what the ECB asked of them and ultimately their mistake was to agree to the ECB proposals. There is a warning in that.

  • Is it time we started talking about getting rid of the ECB altogether? They have told untold damage to all forms of cricket, whether international, domestic professional, amateur, or youth cricket, all the while lining their own pockets.

    Isn’t it time we admitted that they are – clearly – totally beyond reform, and that just sitting back and letting them completely destroy the national summer sport is not a palatable option?

    They’re not incompetent at all. They are just run by people whose motives and financial interests are not in the best interests of the game.

    • I think they can still be incompetent at times. They seem very bad at PR and specialise in misjudging the public mood.

      • Except, James, that as long as the money keeps rolling in they don’t seem to consider “the public mood” to be something they need even consider, let alone pander to. This is pure imperial hubris we’re seeing from the ECB. I’d like to think these people will overreach themselves and face a reckoning one day, but how much more damage will they do in the meantime?

        • Since when to people with money or in positions of power ever face a day of reckoning ?? Answer.. Never

          You will ever reform anything because society demands that success is measured in your pay packet and profit.

  • I feel so full of anger and resentment at this reprehensible decision that I feel compelled to comment on your fine platform for the first time. I’ve had a couple of days to digest it now and have read some of the previous comments with interest. Forgive me the indulgence but I want to add some further context as someone directly affected.

    I grew up as a cricket fan in the North East at a time when we had no first-class county in the region and had to be content with an annual jamboree at Jesmond called the Caller’s International Cricket Festival. It allowed me to say to this day that I saw some of the all-time greats of the game perform, even if some of them were a little past their best and the matches often had an exhibition feel to them. But it was all we had.

    When Durham were awarded first-class status in 1992 it was as if our existence up here was finally recognised. No longer would we have to invoke memories of Tom Graveney and Colin Milburn to prove we could produce international cricketers. Now our local talent would have a vehicle to express itself on a big stage. The development of the Riverside (I can’t call it the hideously corporate Emirates) and the staging of Test matches was welcome but to many of us was simply a bonus. These extras though were a condition of attaining entry to the top table, something which really must be strongly stressed in all of this.

    The early years were tough, watching a team routinely beaten and scrapping around at the foot of the table with a ragtag assemblage of has-beens and never-would-bes, but behind the scenes it was all coming together and once it did it was glorious. You know the names but they’re worth reciting again: Collingwood, Harmison, Plunkett, Mustard, Onions, Borthwick, Stokes, Wood, and an honourable mention for Simon Brown for those who remember him. All of these players were locally born, with the exception of Stokes who arrived young and came through the system, with an accent to prove it. Keaton Jennings is following a similar path. How many other counties can claim such an identity? England (and by extension the ECB) were enriched immensely by Durham’s emergence. I follow a number of sports closely and I can honestly say that nothing has given me greater pride than to win three Championships and two Lord’s finals with a largely home-grown team flying the flag for this isolated northern outpost of the game.

    That’s a key point. Durham represent not just the geographical boundaries of the county but the entire region. Unlike in football we can put petty rivalries aside and unite around an entity whose elevation was part of growing the game. Remember that concept? Ireland, Afghanistan and all the other associate nations might well roll their eyes. This draconian punishment for financial problems which were largely of the ECB’s making means all of this is in jeopardy. How can we hope to grow the game internationally if we’re shrinking it in England?

    It’s hard not to conclude that all of this is part of a wider agenda. If we had been the only county in debt and/or the situation had been the product of some impropriety I could accept it. Part of me feels that Durham themselves acquiesced too easily and should have come out fighting, but realistically what options did they have? Seems they simply chose the wrong creditor. What is most frustrating is that it’s hard to know in which direction to lash out. Do I never go back in protest? That would be utterly counter-productive. Do I stop following the England team? I admit I will now feel slightly queasy watching our products representing the ECB in these circumstances but it’s hardly a mature response. I’m pretty ill-disposed towards Hampshire at the minute but I realise the posturing self-publicist Bransgrove is not necessarily representative of their membership.

    I feel utterly disillusioned with cricket right now. From T20 franchises to meaningless ODIs to the running into the ground of the traditional forms to Sky Sports to the virtual disappearance of any visibility among the youth… And now this! Durham will rise again, I’m sure of that, but the legacy of this betrayal will be a bitter taste for a long long time.

    • Brilliant post Phil. I have a great deal of sympathy. I think most people around here have very similar feelings about the future of cricket.

      PS I remember Simon Brown well. A left-armer who played a test if I remember rightly. Fine bowler.

    • A slightly OTT view of Durham but I agree with the general sentiment. It is a bit of a shame that Ben Stokes has put his foot in it again today with his comments on sledging. It is difficult enough keeping behaviour at acceptable levels in club cricket and amongst colts without England vice captains behaving like naughty schoolkids. Keep the confrontations for those rare occasions like the Gatting/Rana episode when there is a real reason for it.

  • As a Durham supporter i am just glad that we live to fight another day, yes there are many reasons why we find ourselves in this position, some are of our own making, some because of our ambition, some because of the system that all club find themselves operating in, The important thing is we find ourselves with hope and something to prove to the rest of the cricket world that we can be responsible, we came from the minor counties just 2 decades ago so we should still be upbeat about the future in Div 2

  • Meanwhile (the only MSM report on it that I can find):


    So having rigged the draw so that India played Pakistan, they’re now going to un-rig their own rigging to appease the latest twist in BCCI policy, that they don’t want to play Pakistan. The latter is a principled stance against Pakistan as a “terrorist state”. Curiously, that principle only applies to ICC tournament group stages and does not apply to knockout games. Giles Clarke to bring about “peace in our time”…..

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.


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