<
>

Durham resist role as rubbing rags of county cricket

Ryan Patel in action for Surrey Getty Images

Durham's new chief executive Tim Bostock insists that he has no intention of allowing the county to become the "rubbing rags" of county cricket.

Durham are still recovering from the penalties, including relegation, imposed by the ECB after they hit the financial buffers two years ago.

Bostock, who played Minor Counties cricket for Cheshire - including four List A appearances - will officially take over from the long-serving David Harker as Durham's chief executive on Sunday although he has been working at the club for three weeks.

Bostock, 56, will combine a solid cricket background with sound business acumen after a career spent working for Barclays, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, National Australia Bank and New South Wales Government.

He has already made halting the exodus of Durham's best homegrown players a priority. The likes of Keaton Jennings, Scott Borthwick, Mark Stoneman and Paul Coughlin have all departed in recent times.

"We got dealt a blow by the ECB and that does take some working our way out of," Bostock said. "One thing we do here is produce a lot of good young players. With finances being tight it becomes a little bit difficult to sprinkle some stardust on top. So we have to make sure that we retain our best young players.

"There are a few of the bigger clubs chasing down one or two of our players and I have some meetings planned to make sure that doesn't happen. We are determined that we are not going to be rubbing rags and I think you will see some robust resistance from Durham."

Harker will continue as a non-executive director with responsibility for a hotel and residential development at Emirates Riverside which is crucial to increasing Durham's non-cricket revenue.

****

Surrey all-rounder Ryan Patel is not the first player to complain about being racially abused at Scarborough.

Back in 1984 there were complaints of shouts of "Sieg Heil" and bananas being thrown at Gloucestershire's David Lawrence and John Shepherd from the popular bank during a Sunday League match at North Marine Road. Thankfully, things have moved on a lot since then.

This week's events overshadowed the progress that Surrey are making this season with important contributions from different ends of the age scale.

Patel, Ollie Pope and Amar Virdi, all products of Surrey's academy system, have all produced match-winning performances while Geoff Arnold - at 73 a man old enough to be their grandfather - has made a typically understated contribution since he returned to the Oval as bowling coach following with Derbyshire, Kent and Northamptonshire.

"I'm just a miserable old devil really. But watching players do well is one of the most satisfying bits - more than playing," said the former England seamer.

"If you're coaching someone and they get selected to play for England or you're working with younger players and watching them work hard and reap the rewards, it's one of the most satisfying things of a coach's career."

****

Tom Haines' maiden first-class hundred for Sussex last week had quite a back story. By now it is quite well known that his mother gave him a lift to the ground, but the extent of this family commitment was perhaps not entirely grasped.

Haines was in a hotel room in Kingston with his kit was locked in the pavilion at New Malden where he had been playing a 2nd XI match against Surrey.

Mike Yardy, the former England one-day spinner and Sussex's 2nd XI coach got him that far by 7.30 the next morning, but there was still the little matter of how to join the 1st XI at Arundel. That's where his mother came in. Phoned late the previous night at home in Horsham she wearily agreed to what for her was a 110-mile round trip, much of it in rush hour. Far more than just a tootle down the road.

Frankly, Jason Gillespie, Sussex's coach, was lucky that Haines even answered his phone. He was halfway through watching Love Island at the time which for millions has become a nightly obsession. Haines has not taken to blow drying his eyebrows, as far as we are aware, but Gillespie should be warned - Love Island fans will have a hole in their lives around the end of July.

****

Shiv Thakor, the disgraced former Derbyshire and Leicestershire batsman, will be able to resume playing on Sunday after completing a three-month suspension imposed by the ECB for bringing the game into disrepute following his conviction for indecently exposing himself while on a jog near his home.

A further three month ban from playing remains suspended pending Thakor's completion of a court-imposed community order.

Thakor has played no cricket since June 17 last year when he played for Ockbrook & Borrowash in a Derbyshire Premier League match. He was suspended by Derbyshire after he was arrested and his subsequent ban by the ECB has covered all county and Premier League cricket.

Expect Leicestershire to weigh up whether to offer him a second chance.

****

Leicestershire all-rounder Zak Chappell has played only 12 first-class matches in four seasons but even though some judges view him as "a little delicate" he is one of the most sought-after players on the county circuit.

So far seven counties - Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Somerset, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Surrey - have made official approaches for the 21-year-old.

Leicestershire have offered Chappell an extension to his contract that expires at the end of the season but more in hope than expectation that he will sign it. Chappell joined Leicestershire from Stamford School where he was coached by former England seamer Dean Headley.

****

The race - well, more of a crawl really - to become the first player to reach 1,000 first-class runs this season looks likely to go into August for the first time since the introduction of the two-division County Championship.

Three centuries in four innings took Ian Bell to the top of the leaderboard but the former England batsman managed only 27 in two innings against Durham this week.

Bell, with the help of an early-season century against Durham MCCU, is the only batsman to have topped 700 runs so far and with only one round of championship matches scheduled for July it could be as late as mid-August before the first batsman reaches the four figure milestone.

Only in three years since 2000 has the landmark has been reached as late as July 31 - Sussex's Michael Bevan in 2000, Worcestershire's Stephen Moore in 2008 and Marcus Trescothick for Somerset a year later.