Strauss defends selectors after Botham criticism
Ian Botham is "100% wrong" if he believes Paul Coughlin was lured to Nottinghamshire by promises of England selection, according to Andrew Strauss
Ian Botham is "100% wrong" if he believes Paul Coughlin was lured to Nottinghamshire by promises of England selection, according to Andrew Strauss. Botham, the chairman of Durham, released a statement on Tuesday in which he suggested Durham's players had been unsettled by talk of "greater England opportunities" if they moved to different counties. He went on to warn of a "potential for conflict of interest" in serving county directors of cricket also working as England selectors. Many interpreted that as a swipe at Mick Newell, who combines his role as director of cricket at Nottinghamshire with a part-time position as an England selector. Coughlin is expected to be joined at Trent Bridge next season by his Durham team-mate Keaton Jennings who is understood to have agreed a deal subject to Nottinghamshire securing promotion back to Division One. Angus Fraser also combines his role as an England selector with his position as director of cricket at Middlesex.
While Strauss, the director of England cricket, said he could "understand why there is that perception", he defended not only the individuals involved but the principle of directors of cricket combining their roles with national selection duties.
"He's 100% wrong if he's implying that Coughlin has gone to Nottinghamshire on the back of one of our selectors saying he's got a better chance of playing for England coming to my county," Strauss said.
"All I can do is support the guys who are currently in position. I know what goes on in selection meetings. I know that they are exceptionally conscious of when they might be compromised and will ensure they will not have an input in those matters when it may be seen that they have a conflict of interest.
"Those selectors' job are part-time roles and, as a result, if we want experts who are up to speed with what is currently happening in the game, county directors of cricket are obviously pretty well positioned to be able to do what that role requires them to do. That's why those guys are in position. They are two outstanding individuals and although there might be a perception of conflict of interest, I just don't believe that to be the case.
"I would be exceptionally surprised if any of our selectors were going up to players and saying 'if you come to us it will improve your chances of playing for England'. They won't say that. I know they don't say that. And if they did, that would be a problem.
"We are always looking at ways to improve both the system and the structure. Currently, I am very comfortable with where we are."
Botham also expressed concerns that counties were not being sufficiently rewarded for developing England players. While Strauss pointed out there is an agreement in place to do just that, he admitted the ECB would review its performance related fee payments (PRFP) system to ensure it was working.
"Counties do get money - PRFP - for developing England players," Strauss said. "And we are just starting conversations about what a new county partnership agreement looks like. We are going to be looking at all this and saying, 'how does it work currently and does this incentivise what we want?'
"I want counties to develop their own players. It's the right way to do it and the cheaper way to do things long term. It's really important that people focus their time and their resources into their academies to make sure they are supporting players properly.
"There are a lot of instances of that happening really well and probably a few that could be better. So we need to challenge the counties on that and make sure that people are rewarded for producing England players at all levels. That's ultimately one of the jobs of county cricket."
At present, counties can earn in excess of £100,000 a year in PRFP for a player who has developed through their academy and gone on to represent England. The developing county continues to receive those payments even if the player leaves for another county: for example, Northants continued to benefit from Graeme Swann's England success even after he moved to Nottinghamshire. Warwickshire continue to receive payments for their role in the development of Moeen Ali.
While there is no official transfer system in place - another suggestion put forward by Botham - it has become increasingly common for counties to reach deals between one another for the services of players who are in the middle of long-term contracts.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo