The Ashes 2009 March 18, 2009

Clark row is 'jingoism' - Davidson

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Stuart Clark: in the eye of an Ashes storm © Getty Images
 

Leicestershire's chairman, Neil Davidson, has accused the ECB of adopting a "jingoistic" attitude to the forthcoming Ashes series, and believes that the current row surrounding Stuart Clark's impending move to Kent is taking attention away from the real issue in English cricket, the failings within England's own management structure.

Senior England officials have strongly criticised counties who have signed Australian national players on short-term contracts ahead of this summer's Ashes, with Geoff Miller, the chairman of selectors, and Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, accusing Kent of self-interest in its pursuit of Clark, the Australian fast bowler who will join Phillip Hughes (Middlesex) in the county ranks this summer.

However Davidson, an outspoken critic of the ECB, suggested to Cricinfo that the complaints about Clark were a smokescreen for wider failings. "Counties are entitled to employ overseas players, so I think it's a bit jingoistic to suggest they shouldn't be playing," he said.

"I think the current row might be as a result of the management chaos in the England team. We don't have a permanent coach, and the team has performed badly ever since the Moores-Pietersen row. I think those are the issues the ECB should be concentrating on, rather than criticising counties who happen to employ Australians as overseas players."

Clark is understood to have reached a verbal agreement with Kent regarding a playing stint, however a contract has yet to be signed. The Australian fast bowler, 33, is returning from an elbow injury that sidelined him from the home-and-away Test series against South Africa, and is aiming to reclaim his place in the national side for the first Test in Cardiff. An extended hit-out with Kent would undoubtedly assist him in achieving that goal and, accordingly, has prompted howls of indignation from the ECB.

Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, will reportedly contact Kent this week to express his displeasure, while Morris claimed the courting of Clark, revealed by Cricinfo last month, had prompted "dismay" within English cricket.

"The decision of Kent to sign Stuart Clark so that he can continue his rehabilitation after injury to enable him to be fit for the Ashes series has been met with dismay throughout the game," Morris told The Guardian. "Of course it is up to Kent which players they sign but it is an incredibly busy and important year for cricket in England and we wish to give the team every chance of regaining the Ashes. We all saw the impetus gained from the 2005 success, which led to greater financial rewards to the counties and increased participation generally. I would have hoped that all counties shared our goal of repeating the 2005 success this season and would allow us every opportunity to succeed."

Miller was equally critical of Kent's recruitment strategies. "It's disappointing," Miller told the Times. "My role is not to tell the counties how to run their businesses, but, from an England point of view, it does not help our Ashes situation. We are giving two players the opportunity to use our conditions for the first time in one case and to re-use them and get match practice after injury in the other.

"I cannot imagine Australia would do something reciprocal before we go over there next time or any time. I want England and the counties to work as closely as possible and this does not make the relationship closer. I understand why the counties concerned have done this, but it is disappointing."

Vinny Codrington, Middlesex's chief executive, said that he was aware Clarke had been in contact regarding Hughes. "Taking [Hughes] on is not ideal, but then neither is losing Owais Shah to the IPL," he told the paper. "Perhaps there should be a moratorium on both."

Last week Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket, told Cricinfo that those who criticised him for signing Hughes should "grow up". He continued: "What should the ECB do next summer? Abolish all comforts for the Australians ahead of the Ashes? Put them in dirty hotels and make them travel on a rickety, old school bus with springs coming out of the seats?

"No, you want a situation like in 2005, where you had two teams at the top of their games battling each other, and hopefully England coming out on top. Surely you want the best playing the best, and I see no problem with England taking on a well-prepared Australian side."

However, some county officials agree with Miller and Clarke, including David Smith, Davidson's colleague and chief executive at Leicestershire. "I wouldn't sign an Australian before an Ashes series," he told Cricinfo. "It's certainly not something that would be reciprocated. We had a chance to sign an Australian allrounder but we chose not to do so. We have an obligation to English cricket."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • elsieb66 on March 20, 2009, 10:35 GMT

    "They've had their problems actually winning, but running up regular scores of 500+ is hardly bad."

    Yes Doctor394. England are running up scores of 500+ ... and still can't win! THAT is the problem, especially against opposition ranked second bottom in the world.

  • Cute1 on March 20, 2009, 3:40 GMT

    From a top ranking official this not a well thought out statement at all. I guess that they (ECB) would start banning South African, Indian , Pakistani or any other team's player which is ranked higher than England in the ICC from their county sides(just to be fair). Since they feel that they are coming to usurp their resources/conditions. You would think that they would be glad to have them( CLarke and Hughes ) over in order to observe them playing and study how to bat or bowl to them in the Ashes. If I wanted to be a faster runner I would want to train with someone like Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell, someone better than me not with similar skills or worse off.

    SInce England wants to continue on this rich vein of form. . .so be it. I do enjoy watching the West Indies win matches.

  • maj57 on March 20, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    Well done kent in signing staurt clark. A model professional who will help the younger team members and pass on his experience. As for the ECB, they are a disgrace. How can they complain when they were the ones who didnt give Cooley a extended contract before he signed to be come aussie bowling coach. He made hamrison what he was. Harmison cant even put a decent spell together. I've seen more accuracy in a drunk than harmison bowling spell. The ECB board should be dismantled. They are a bunch of clowns. They dont care about the well being of English cricket. Its all about money to them bottom line. Sky give them millions in Tv revenue and we have a such a bad england team its not even a laughing matter.

  • styrisfan on March 19, 2009, 21:25 GMT

    I can't believe that men who hold such senior positions in English cricket could be so ignorant and pig-headed. Surely they must know that their argument does not hold water. And how can they chirp that "it would not be reciprocated"? I'm sure that if Pietersen or Flintoff wanted to play for a State side before an Ashes tour it would be no problem at all. These are incredible statements from Geoff Miller and Giles Clark. I'm looking forward to the Ashes now and I will be behind Australia all the way, which, as a New Zealander, I can't often say.

  • Swissie on March 19, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    Just the sort of reaction one would expect from an inadequate management team. They have obviously been to the Gordon Brown school for arranging smoke screens when you have just screwed up.

  • StJohn on March 19, 2009, 15:45 GMT

    Giles Clarke, as usual, is not right. The logic of his position, and that of Miller & Morris, has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese: 1.Ponting is right to raise the double standards point; 2.the logical conclusion of their position is that you would have to block every Australian playing in England in an Ashes year - in county, minor county or even club sides - just in case they got called up to the Aussie national side and their English stint gives them an unfair advantage; 3.Angus Fraser is spot on: where do you draw the line?; 4.if stopping Clark or Hughes or whoever playing in England for 6 weeks decides the Ashes, then it says more about the state of the England team than it does about giving talented Aussies some sort of unfair advantage; 5.if England players spent more time preparing ahead of Test series instead of having just a couple of slap-dash 14-a-side warm-up games against weak local teams, then maybe we would do better. There you go - chew on that logic!

  • elsieb66 on March 19, 2009, 14:49 GMT

    The same happened with Steve Waugh a few years ago. Still don't understand why the fuss. It's just a pre-tournament excuse for the loss that England are facing in the series. As for Fraser's comments about 2005 being two teams at the top of their game.... laughable. England may have been at their peak, but the Aussies were terrible, both in terms of their attitude and performances on the field.

  • sap1979 on March 19, 2009, 12:20 GMT

    dyson u r rite. Its just a pathetic attempt by ECB to generate interest in an otherwise inconsequential and boring one sided series. I would rather watch NZ vs WI than these pommie faloodas. Its almost like aussie taking on Bangladesh. As far as all that history BS, well its all history anyway and as MLK said any thing should be appreciated on its contents not by reputation.

  • TheDoctor394 on March 19, 2009, 9:35 GMT

    England has been performing badly since the Peterson-Moores trouble? They've had their problems actually winning, but running up regular scores of 500+ is hardly bad.

  • dyson85 on March 19, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    I find it amazing that the ECB would be so open about not wanting an Australian player to play in England to regain match fitness before the Ashes. Where is the value in winning if they were to actively block Clark's, or anyone's, attempts to be in peak condition for an Ashes series? Why would they not want the Australians to field the best possible team they could? Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems a bizarre position, and being so upfront about it in a public forum makes it even more bizarre. I personally think its a bad look. They need to forget about Clark and Hughes and whoever else, and starting thinking about what their own players need to do to win.

  • elsieb66 on March 20, 2009, 10:35 GMT

    "They've had their problems actually winning, but running up regular scores of 500+ is hardly bad."

    Yes Doctor394. England are running up scores of 500+ ... and still can't win! THAT is the problem, especially against opposition ranked second bottom in the world.

  • Cute1 on March 20, 2009, 3:40 GMT

    From a top ranking official this not a well thought out statement at all. I guess that they (ECB) would start banning South African, Indian , Pakistani or any other team's player which is ranked higher than England in the ICC from their county sides(just to be fair). Since they feel that they are coming to usurp their resources/conditions. You would think that they would be glad to have them( CLarke and Hughes ) over in order to observe them playing and study how to bat or bowl to them in the Ashes. If I wanted to be a faster runner I would want to train with someone like Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell, someone better than me not with similar skills or worse off.

    SInce England wants to continue on this rich vein of form. . .so be it. I do enjoy watching the West Indies win matches.

  • maj57 on March 20, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    Well done kent in signing staurt clark. A model professional who will help the younger team members and pass on his experience. As for the ECB, they are a disgrace. How can they complain when they were the ones who didnt give Cooley a extended contract before he signed to be come aussie bowling coach. He made hamrison what he was. Harmison cant even put a decent spell together. I've seen more accuracy in a drunk than harmison bowling spell. The ECB board should be dismantled. They are a bunch of clowns. They dont care about the well being of English cricket. Its all about money to them bottom line. Sky give them millions in Tv revenue and we have a such a bad england team its not even a laughing matter.

  • styrisfan on March 19, 2009, 21:25 GMT

    I can't believe that men who hold such senior positions in English cricket could be so ignorant and pig-headed. Surely they must know that their argument does not hold water. And how can they chirp that "it would not be reciprocated"? I'm sure that if Pietersen or Flintoff wanted to play for a State side before an Ashes tour it would be no problem at all. These are incredible statements from Geoff Miller and Giles Clark. I'm looking forward to the Ashes now and I will be behind Australia all the way, which, as a New Zealander, I can't often say.

  • Swissie on March 19, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    Just the sort of reaction one would expect from an inadequate management team. They have obviously been to the Gordon Brown school for arranging smoke screens when you have just screwed up.

  • StJohn on March 19, 2009, 15:45 GMT

    Giles Clarke, as usual, is not right. The logic of his position, and that of Miller & Morris, has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese: 1.Ponting is right to raise the double standards point; 2.the logical conclusion of their position is that you would have to block every Australian playing in England in an Ashes year - in county, minor county or even club sides - just in case they got called up to the Aussie national side and their English stint gives them an unfair advantage; 3.Angus Fraser is spot on: where do you draw the line?; 4.if stopping Clark or Hughes or whoever playing in England for 6 weeks decides the Ashes, then it says more about the state of the England team than it does about giving talented Aussies some sort of unfair advantage; 5.if England players spent more time preparing ahead of Test series instead of having just a couple of slap-dash 14-a-side warm-up games against weak local teams, then maybe we would do better. There you go - chew on that logic!

  • elsieb66 on March 19, 2009, 14:49 GMT

    The same happened with Steve Waugh a few years ago. Still don't understand why the fuss. It's just a pre-tournament excuse for the loss that England are facing in the series. As for Fraser's comments about 2005 being two teams at the top of their game.... laughable. England may have been at their peak, but the Aussies were terrible, both in terms of their attitude and performances on the field.

  • sap1979 on March 19, 2009, 12:20 GMT

    dyson u r rite. Its just a pathetic attempt by ECB to generate interest in an otherwise inconsequential and boring one sided series. I would rather watch NZ vs WI than these pommie faloodas. Its almost like aussie taking on Bangladesh. As far as all that history BS, well its all history anyway and as MLK said any thing should be appreciated on its contents not by reputation.

  • TheDoctor394 on March 19, 2009, 9:35 GMT

    England has been performing badly since the Peterson-Moores trouble? They've had their problems actually winning, but running up regular scores of 500+ is hardly bad.

  • dyson85 on March 19, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    I find it amazing that the ECB would be so open about not wanting an Australian player to play in England to regain match fitness before the Ashes. Where is the value in winning if they were to actively block Clark's, or anyone's, attempts to be in peak condition for an Ashes series? Why would they not want the Australians to field the best possible team they could? Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems a bizarre position, and being so upfront about it in a public forum makes it even more bizarre. I personally think its a bad look. They need to forget about Clark and Hughes and whoever else, and starting thinking about what their own players need to do to win.

  • lyra_silvertongue on March 19, 2009, 6:59 GMT

    The new look Australia doesn't need Clark to bowl to win, however he is a deserved 4th on the ICC rankings so if fit he will play. Does England want to win or to play the best opposition? Given that they won't win anyway they may as well give Clark the practice he needs to be fit and watch the best.

  • david_robbo on March 19, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    Honestly, as good as the Aussie team tends to be the Poms should have little to worry about. With the population and financial advantages they hold the Poms should win more often than they do. The ECB need to adress the problems with the county system that lead to such a rich and populated system currently sitting 6th in the ICC ratings. Indian have started to be led properly and look what they are starting to achieve with the depth of young tallent that has finally been found and nurtured and achieving results. It says a lot for the weekness if English cricket that players play in comps like the Sydney or Melbourn grade comp to improve their chances of making a national team. It is also worth noting that the ECB Chairman believes the best chance his team has of regaining the Ashes is to do his best to face an ill prepared Aussie team. Yet another sad reflection on the English game.

  • charlese1 on March 19, 2009, 5:14 GMT

    Paullie must be an aussie; australia is never beaten by a better side in any sport acoording to them. If team australia loses it is a) because of the referees or umpires, witness the coach complaining afer the rugby league world cup final; b)they were off their game, witness Paullie's comment; c)they were missing players, witness the excuse that McGrath was injured in 2005; d)the conditions, witness when England won the rugby union world cup in Sydney all the aussies complained that the weather suited the english or e)any other excuse they can think of!

  • bobagorof on March 19, 2009, 2:49 GMT

    If the ECB is really worried about Australians getting used to English conditions, then why do they allow them to play in English conditions in other years? And is this stance going to apply to Indians before India tour, or Pakistanis before Pakistan tour, or Sri Lankans, or players from other countries? Either the counties can use overseas players or not.

  • letchford on March 19, 2009, 2:27 GMT

    Just keep feeding the aussie egos... Given that Johnson & Siddle are certainties for the tour. Hilffy & Lee to battle it out for the 3rd bowler position. Clarke won't be in the team. Given that Clarke will not have bowled in a match for 4 to 5 months, I can't see Australia risking him. The bigger picture for the ashes are the Aussies going to be challenged by England. They will need to make more than 51 to worry the aussies. Better still, before England play a test series against anyone no player from that oppossing country is allowed to play county cricket in the preceeding county season.

    Also during the season that Paul Collingwood made his debut for England he was picked while playing district cricket in Melbourne. It seams easier to target international players in county cricket than talk about the weaknesses of the English test team...

  • __PK on March 19, 2009, 1:12 GMT

    LOL! I just reread Angus Fraser's comments about the 2005 Ashes series' being between "...two teams at the top of their games..." Australia were so far off the top of their game in 2005 it wasn't funny. They even lost an Ashes series, they were so bad. 2006/07 was more representative of their usual standard.

  • __PK on March 19, 2009, 1:07 GMT

    I reckon the ACB and the Australian States would love to have a Pietersen, say, out for a few weeks ahead of an Ashes tour. Every bowler in Australian First Class cricket would be queueing up for an opportunity to make him look foolish, and strike a blow for the Test team even before the opposition arrive.

  • dsig3 on March 19, 2009, 1:01 GMT

    In 2007 there was a rumour going around the Melbourne cricket community that Flintoff was coming over before the ashes to play for a club side. I think it was Geelong. Never happened. In hindsight they probably could have used the practice. If KP rolls up and knocks on an Aussie domestic states door wanting to play, I cant imagine anybody saying no. The thing is that Australia rarely sign international players anymore, except for the nuff-nuffs in south Aus. Next ashes in Aus I hope English players come here beforehand but I suspect they will be too busy rolling in money.

  • CharonTFm on March 19, 2009, 0:38 GMT

    CRam is right on the money. The ECB is short sited, if Hughes and Clark will be on the Australia Team this Ashes tour (which they most certainly will) then what better opportunity than to suss out the competition. They can see how Hughes responds to certain balls, which bounce tightens him up or which side weakens him up. As for Clark, see how he handles the ball, how does he hold the ball to give him the speed and bounce he needs etc... If you sign top oversea players, it gives the opportunity for the younger players to face a real challenge inspiring them or prepare them for playing with their Country.

    It seems like the ECB got every decision wrong, maybe it's time to give them a shaft and put on some real visionaries, some of the county directors seem intelligent enough.

  • billybob67 on March 19, 2009, 0:06 GMT

    English players do come to Australia to play in our summers. Alec Stuart played for Midland-Guildford for so many years they consider him part of the furniture. I have seen many others come over and play grade cricket here. Funny thing is most struggle at grade cricket level, let alone playing shield cricket.

  • DKan on March 18, 2009, 22:57 GMT

    Tells you something about some teams. NZ allowed Indian test players to play a round of their domestic games to prepare for tests. Australians were allowed to arrive in India earlier (last year), and acclimatise and get an additional practice game once Champions Trophy was called off. As a player I am sure you want to take on an opposing team at its full strength and beat them.

  • peeeeet on March 18, 2009, 22:37 GMT

    ECB you should be ashamed, this is absolutely ridiculous, childish nonsense from you guys. So Mr Clarke and Mr Miller, if you are so worried of 2 Aussies coming over and playing in a few county matches and potentially getting used to conditions, I have some more measures you could implement that I think are on your wave length. Why don't you tell these Aussie imports they can only play once the series is finished or even in December when theres no cricket. Or why not cancel all tour games and they have to play on the day that their plane arrives. You could even make a rule that the Aussies can't play the same squad in back to back matches so a new one flies over for the next test and the guys there fly home. You could make any Aussie batsman playing county cricket have to go by the rule 'hit and run' and if they miss three balls in a row they are out. GROW UP ECB!!!

  • colinham on March 18, 2009, 16:17 GMT

    I agree with most of the above in rubbishing the "Australia wouldn't allow it" tone. Although it's not quite the same, I seem to remember them helping the development of a number of up and coming English players by allocating them positions in their (rather strong) club set ups during the English winter (Alec Stewart springs to mind and I'm sure it still goes on). What about a year or so ago when a touring but out of touch James Anderson was given a match in a New Zealand "county" game to get some rhythm. It is not so long ago that the counties all used to play the tourists to try and beat them - I thought that had fallen into decline due to the number of One Day Internationals, but now I realise that the ECB stopped it so that England could play underprepared opposition..............

  • henrystephen on March 18, 2009, 14:25 GMT

    Sounds like someone has been having a hard time recently and is trying to win back a bit of popularity the dirty way. As Dr.Johnson said, "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel"

  • oxypnictides on March 18, 2009, 13:38 GMT

    Oh by the way, I simply forgot - we still have an one-day series coming up against the West Indies! Of course, we are the hot favourites, and we will roll them over just like we did in the test series! It was, and is, just practice for the Ashes! So, there really is no need to focus on the Windies ODIs!!! I really cannot show my sense of indignation at this jokers (Clarke et al) any better - I wish I had a better command of the language.

  • Kit_Silver on March 18, 2009, 13:08 GMT

    Its pretty annoying to see the counties fine tuning the Aussies so they are ready for the conditions when the Ashes begins later in the year. The same situation occurred back last time in 2005. All the Aussies appeared the year before to gain practice. It didn't do them much good then, hopefully not this time either! Neil Davidson (Leicestershire) and Angus Fraser (Middlesex) both seem to be making excuses for the fact its business as usual namely making money to stave off the bank manager! Maybe at some time in the future they will wake up, slim down the number of counties and make things a bit more manageable. Not that it will make much difference. England don't have the will to win at present. If Harmison, Flintoff & Sidebottom can be coaxed into full fitness and effort, though, it might not be all over before it starts. Also, with no Shane Warne this time round, Swann & Panesar will be relishing a dry spring and early summer so that the ball will spin prodigiously for them.

  • Ross_Co on March 18, 2009, 12:42 GMT

    Not many English players get gigs in Oz State teams regardless of whether the ashes are on or not - nothing to do with conspiracies, they're just not good enough. I suppose Strauss & Peterson might get a go but let's face it - they're not exactly 'English' are they? Also, since the team is yet to be named what makes you think that Clark & Hughes will be in it? Hughes scored a couple of centuries but so what? We've got dozens like him over here, we might drop him just to be clever, in the same way that we got rid of Love & Hodges within a couple of tests of scoring centuries. If either of those players were 'English'(in the same manner as Peterson, Caddick, Jones et al) they would both be 100 test veterans with MBE's swinging from their necks. Brendon Nash is another prime example - not good enough for Queensland but good enough to score a test century against the England 'attack' (for want of a better word). Always Good to see panic setting in though. Cheers

  • Charlie_4.0 on March 18, 2009, 12:35 GMT

    Clarke/Miller/Morris have presided over the final demolition of what remained of the legacy of the last Ashes win, & now they are desperately casting about for a scapegoat for the inevitable pasting that this Summer has in store. Morris invokes the "2005 success", as though to take the credit and make it clear that if it doesn't happen again, it can't possibly be his fault.

  • 200ondebut on March 18, 2009, 12:15 GMT

    It pains me to say it but I agree with the sympathies of Giles Clarke. This is just another case of self-interest from the Counties - who should remember where the bulk of their funding comes from. Of course if we had got past the self-interest that manifests itself in having 18 first class counties (more than double what is required to have a truly competitative first class game) we would not have this issue or the issue with Kolpak players for that matter. Still - the only saving grace is that they will be playing in Div 2 which is hardly the best prep for a test match.

  • Kunal4 on March 18, 2009, 12:13 GMT

    Won't this amount to collusion if this were to happen in businesses or for that instance look at major League baseball. there is an investigation going on to see if the owners colluded to keep Barry Bonds from playing last year.

  • kc79 on March 18, 2009, 11:56 GMT

    Mr Miller is correct when he says that the Australian states would not put England players into their teams. However, this is not because the states want to do the best for the Australian national team, but simply beacuse the England players are not good enought to be picked.

  • mononz on March 18, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    I'm a neutral Kiwi, but still must side with Angus Fraser here. An "obligation to English cricket" means an obligation to produce an English side at full potential, and not do anything possible to disadvantage the opposition so that it doesn't meet its own potential! As cricket viewers we want to see quality contests, in both the Ashes and English county cricket. If it was such a crime to give other players a taste of conditions, why even allow overseas players to take part in the first place? By picking and choosing, the ECB is showing its true colours as terrified of the Ozzy force. One last thing to point out is that shortly before England's tour to NZ early last year, down and out opener Andrew Strauss was allowed to play in the NZ county competition. Not only was this good for our comp, but he developed enough form to regain his place on that tour and is now the English captain and best batsman! Is Giles Clark a hypocrite or is his memory just extremely short?

  • adamtwittey on March 18, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    This is something I've been mulling over a bit this last (Australian) summer, after seeing an influx of overseas players signing up and players being bought by other states. Domestic cricket should be just that - domestic cricket - the best players from each county/state playing for their own county/state, for the development of their countries cricketing prowess.

    These "marquee signings" have really done nothing much for the sport here; attendance hasn't improved from its dismal level and it certainly isn't helping the development of Australian cricket, or the bank balances of the state cricket coffers.

    The situation isn't that bad at the moment and if something is to be done, which it should, it should be done soon. We don't want to turn cricket into club football... how many players in the Man.U. squad are actually from Manchester? Leave that money-grabbing stuff for IPL, or for 20/20 domestic cricket.

  • CRam on March 18, 2009, 11:31 GMT

    As much as it surely is an opportunity for the Australian players to familiarise themselves with English conditions and players, it is also an opportunity for the English players to familiarise themselves with their Ashes contestants from up close, and to pick up chinks in their armoury as well.

  • zimbrowski on March 18, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    It shows how little faith the ECB have in their players that they want a weakened Australian side. Doesn't test cricket need more contests like the last few Aus/SA series? Teams at their peaks, games see-sawing? I think there is a cancer running from the top of English cricket to the bottom. There is fear and a weakness that is evident from issues like this, through to safe captaincy decisions that cost England the recent test series. Hell even the insular, protectionist decision to limit the number of overseas players to 1 per county (where there are far too many teams anyway) has weakened the system that feeds the national team. The ECB should be shouting "Find your best players and BRING IT ON!" ............And Stuart Clark isnt even in the Aussie team. That's a bit sad.

  • nishantha84 on March 18, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    Why in the world is he doing this? Last time England went to Australia they lost really badly. I don't think it would have mattered if England players had played in Australia or not. The conditions in England will anyway favour the swing bowlers. so whether clarke plays or not would not matter actually. But England do have the advantage of batting in difficult conditions and they are used to it. I think that was the reason for the sucess in 2005. Maybe bowlers can come and play but not batsman. Still that would be questionable. does that mean that Clarke cannot bat in the matches?

  • Georgie_boy on March 18, 2009, 11:20 GMT

    It's pathetic that grown men can come out with this one-eyed nonsense. And, in case they hadn't noticed, Indian test players have been playing in the NZ state championship to prepare for the test series on at the moment and no one has criticised this.

    Also, and this is the nub, it strikes me that not only could Hughes and Clark in particular pass on something to their county team mates but also that they are both excellent players whose overall form during the series is unlikely to be dictated by whether they spend a few weeks with a county. And who knows, we might find out a little more about the technique of Philip Hughes. After all, maybe we would have known a little sooner that Adam Gilchrist was vulnerable to full-pitched bowling from around the wicket had he ever played county cricket!

    Finally, and I am sure others will point this out, Morris and Miller should get on with their jobs with England which they are doing less than brilliantly at the moment.

  • muhammadfr on March 18, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    Mr. Clarke should concentrate on preparing his side which is in shambles. Very childish stance from the ECB and we are becoming accustomed to that from them.

  • Andre2 on March 18, 2009, 10:27 GMT

    Where has gone the so-called English "fair-play" ? Englishmen so prompt to give lessons of "fair play" to the whole world when they win because they received dubious referee decisions. Now they are sensing that they may lose (not regain the Ashes). So they want to prevent the counties to give match practices in English conditions to potential opponents ! Disappointing, really disappointing. Shame on Miller and Morris ! Don't they remember all those English cricketers playing in Australia before Ashes down-under ?

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  • Andre2 on March 18, 2009, 10:27 GMT

    Where has gone the so-called English "fair-play" ? Englishmen so prompt to give lessons of "fair play" to the whole world when they win because they received dubious referee decisions. Now they are sensing that they may lose (not regain the Ashes). So they want to prevent the counties to give match practices in English conditions to potential opponents ! Disappointing, really disappointing. Shame on Miller and Morris ! Don't they remember all those English cricketers playing in Australia before Ashes down-under ?

  • muhammadfr on March 18, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    Mr. Clarke should concentrate on preparing his side which is in shambles. Very childish stance from the ECB and we are becoming accustomed to that from them.

  • Georgie_boy on March 18, 2009, 11:20 GMT

    It's pathetic that grown men can come out with this one-eyed nonsense. And, in case they hadn't noticed, Indian test players have been playing in the NZ state championship to prepare for the test series on at the moment and no one has criticised this.

    Also, and this is the nub, it strikes me that not only could Hughes and Clark in particular pass on something to their county team mates but also that they are both excellent players whose overall form during the series is unlikely to be dictated by whether they spend a few weeks with a county. And who knows, we might find out a little more about the technique of Philip Hughes. After all, maybe we would have known a little sooner that Adam Gilchrist was vulnerable to full-pitched bowling from around the wicket had he ever played county cricket!

    Finally, and I am sure others will point this out, Morris and Miller should get on with their jobs with England which they are doing less than brilliantly at the moment.

  • nishantha84 on March 18, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    Why in the world is he doing this? Last time England went to Australia they lost really badly. I don't think it would have mattered if England players had played in Australia or not. The conditions in England will anyway favour the swing bowlers. so whether clarke plays or not would not matter actually. But England do have the advantage of batting in difficult conditions and they are used to it. I think that was the reason for the sucess in 2005. Maybe bowlers can come and play but not batsman. Still that would be questionable. does that mean that Clarke cannot bat in the matches?

  • zimbrowski on March 18, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    It shows how little faith the ECB have in their players that they want a weakened Australian side. Doesn't test cricket need more contests like the last few Aus/SA series? Teams at their peaks, games see-sawing? I think there is a cancer running from the top of English cricket to the bottom. There is fear and a weakness that is evident from issues like this, through to safe captaincy decisions that cost England the recent test series. Hell even the insular, protectionist decision to limit the number of overseas players to 1 per county (where there are far too many teams anyway) has weakened the system that feeds the national team. The ECB should be shouting "Find your best players and BRING IT ON!" ............And Stuart Clark isnt even in the Aussie team. That's a bit sad.

  • CRam on March 18, 2009, 11:31 GMT

    As much as it surely is an opportunity for the Australian players to familiarise themselves with English conditions and players, it is also an opportunity for the English players to familiarise themselves with their Ashes contestants from up close, and to pick up chinks in their armoury as well.

  • adamtwittey on March 18, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    This is something I've been mulling over a bit this last (Australian) summer, after seeing an influx of overseas players signing up and players being bought by other states. Domestic cricket should be just that - domestic cricket - the best players from each county/state playing for their own county/state, for the development of their countries cricketing prowess.

    These "marquee signings" have really done nothing much for the sport here; attendance hasn't improved from its dismal level and it certainly isn't helping the development of Australian cricket, or the bank balances of the state cricket coffers.

    The situation isn't that bad at the moment and if something is to be done, which it should, it should be done soon. We don't want to turn cricket into club football... how many players in the Man.U. squad are actually from Manchester? Leave that money-grabbing stuff for IPL, or for 20/20 domestic cricket.

  • mononz on March 18, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    I'm a neutral Kiwi, but still must side with Angus Fraser here. An "obligation to English cricket" means an obligation to produce an English side at full potential, and not do anything possible to disadvantage the opposition so that it doesn't meet its own potential! As cricket viewers we want to see quality contests, in both the Ashes and English county cricket. If it was such a crime to give other players a taste of conditions, why even allow overseas players to take part in the first place? By picking and choosing, the ECB is showing its true colours as terrified of the Ozzy force. One last thing to point out is that shortly before England's tour to NZ early last year, down and out opener Andrew Strauss was allowed to play in the NZ county competition. Not only was this good for our comp, but he developed enough form to regain his place on that tour and is now the English captain and best batsman! Is Giles Clark a hypocrite or is his memory just extremely short?

  • kc79 on March 18, 2009, 11:56 GMT

    Mr Miller is correct when he says that the Australian states would not put England players into their teams. However, this is not because the states want to do the best for the Australian national team, but simply beacuse the England players are not good enought to be picked.

  • Kunal4 on March 18, 2009, 12:13 GMT

    Won't this amount to collusion if this were to happen in businesses or for that instance look at major League baseball. there is an investigation going on to see if the owners colluded to keep Barry Bonds from playing last year.