England board under fire December 12, 2006

Marsh slams ECB decision to let Cooley go

Cricinfo staff

Rod Marsh: 'I know Troy would have stayed ... he wanted to stay in England' © Getty Images
Rod Marsh, the former Australia wicketkeeper who headed the ECB's Academy from 2001 to 2005, has slammed the England board, accusing it of virtually losing the Ashes when it decided to allow Troy Cooley to return to Australia.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Marsh pulled no punches. "How they didn't wrap Cooley up is beyond comprehension," he said. "The ECB is an organisation that has a hell of a lot more money than almost anyone in world cricket and so you have to wonder why it was haggling over a contract extension.

"If Troy Cooley was the reason England's bowlers performed so well last summer - and I think he was - then I simply don't understand the ECB. I know Troy would have stayed ... he wanted to stay in England."

Marsh also made clear that he was bitter at the way he had been treated by the ECB, explaining that he felt "a bit bloody cheated by England". He added: "[They] have gone in only one direction, and that's backwards. So that's why it doesn't surprise me in the least that they're already 2-0 down. The only thing that will surprise me about England is if they don't lose 5-0."

Marsh also criticised the way that Duncan Fletcher has handled Chris Read. "The saddest thing is that, if Geraint Jones were to break a finger, then Read would come into the side knowing [Fletcher] has said he can't play under pressure. I find it staggering a coach could say that about one of his own players.

"Fletcher's going to do things his way but at the moment there's no real accountability, even with England situated at the bottom of one-day cricket and slipping fast in Test cricket. It's sad. It's really sad."

But Marsh also admitted one of his own mistakes when, earlier in the series, he ridiculed the idea that Paul Collingwood could bat at No. 4. "I must eat some humble pie," Marsh shrugged. "You cannot quibble with a double century in an Ashes Test. Good on Collingwood."