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David Morgan, the new chairman of the ECB, insists that strengthening Team England and restoring the county game's status are not incompatible. Morgan takes over from Lord MacLaurin on January 1 after polling 11 votes to Mike Soper's eight in the ballot of the First Class Forum on September 13, a decision ratified by the ECB's 39 members in early October. Morgan, 64, will take charge initially for two years and is considered a safe pair of hands. Cricket can prepare itself for a period of calm, with the counties afforded a chance to lick their wounds after their relationship with MacLaurin became strained.
"It's very important that the ECB wins the affection of its constituents, the first-class and minor counties," he says. "Although Team England will be my priority, joint top will be to ensure that the counties prosper again. The two are not incompatible and the county game will benefit from two overseas players from next season."
However, Morgan is concerned by the potential reduction in places for England-qualified cricketers in county teams due to the number of EU-qualified players being introduced. "With two overseas and maybe two or three EU-qualified, that could mean only six England-qualified players, and that isn't healthy," he says. "But we've taken counsel's advice and cannot act in an unlawful way when it comes to EU nationals, although we will review the situation."
Morgan also feels the unpredictability of the county fixture list is a concern, particularly the staging of domestic limited-overs matches. "I know floodlit games need to be played in the middle of the week but the amount of Sunday cricket - which is very popular - has been reduced considerably."
Reviews in the boardroom are also planned as he seeks to reduce the size of the 17-man ECB management board. Although he is known to admire New Zealand's slim-line seven-person board, he says it might prove impossible to replicate. "That would be a massive leap and I believe the quality of the people we have already would make such a process unnecessary."
The appointment is good news for Duncan Fletcher, who worked with Morgan at Glamorgan, because there should be less of the "them-and-us" relationship between the players and the ECB. "Duncan has achieved a huge amount and I hope to continue working closely with him and listening to his ideas," Morgan said.
Morgan has been MacLaurin's deputy throughout his six-year tenure and he chaired the First Class Forum for four years. He served on the Glamorgan committee for 18 years and was chairman for five. And as chair of the Structure Working Party he drew up the constitution of the ECB.
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