March 18, 2009

England cricket

Clarke embarrassed after email farce

Andrew Miller

Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, has been subjected to further embarrassment after an email intended for him from Nigel Hilliard, the Essex chairman, was instead sent straight to the inbox of his most outspoken opponent, Leicestershire's Neil Davidson. The subject of the email? Advice on how to deal with Davidson's threat of legal action after Clarke's particularly forthright opinions in the media.

Speaking to the The Independent, Clarke variously described Davidson and his fellow critic, Rod Bransgrove of Hampshire, as “two men with a megaphone”, “flawed individuals” and “useless people who couldn't run a piss-up in a brewery.”

Davidson, in an email response that has been circulated around the counties, wrote: “The statements which you have made about me are offensive and totally without foundation. I am considering the best way to proceed given that what you said about me is clearly actionable and totally unbecoming of the chairman of the ECB.”

The situation was then compounded when Clarke, seeking advice on how to proceed, contacted Hilliard, who inadvertently sent his reply straight to Davidson.

Hilliard wrote: “Suggest you reply that you will bring the matter to the next ECB Board meeting. We might then slap your wrist and tell you carry on the good work. At the same time we might also suggest Davidson and Bransgrove keep quiet and let the chairman, who has just been elected by a landslide, get on with the job.”

Speaking to Cricinfo, Davidson confirmed the farcical chain of events. “I can certainly confirm that Hilliard sent an email to me that he thought he’d sent to Clarke,” he said. “I actually get on pretty well with Nigel, and he rang me to say: ‘Err, you shouldn’t have seen that.’”

“Nevertheless, the email is indicative of the closed-shop mentality that is surrounding Giles and keeping him in power,” said Davidson. “Looking at the polls run in the national newspapers at the height of the Stanford debacle, 85% said that Giles should go. It is very straightforward, the majority of county chairmen are not in touch with public opinion, and as the custodians of the national game, I think that is unsustainable.”

On the original content of Clarke’s interview, Davidson said: “I am advised that his comments are actionable, although I’m not sure that’s a course of action I want to take. But it also depends on Giles Clarke’s reaction. I didn’t put my email to Clarke in the public domain, I don’t know who has. I was dealing with this behind closed doors.”

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Andrew Miller is the former UK editor of ESPNcricinfo and now editor of The Cricketer magazine

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