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The England and Wales Cricket Board's chairman argues that much has been achieved in his 18-month tenure
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THOSE INVOLVED in recording the fortunes of English cricket sometimes expose a lack of knowledge about the broader picture and neatly sidestep the successes of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Derek Pringle, for example, says that we "have achieved little other than to increase the number of people wearing ECB blazers".

Some 18 months ago, when the ECB was set up, we produced a National Development Plan, which set out a strategy for the development of the game from the playground to the Test arena. Our goal was to create a world- beating international team and develop a cricketing nation that would be respected throughout the world. This is a grand ambition and our work has only just begun.

But much progress has already been made. There are more than a million primary school children - nearly half of whom are girls - playing the game, 50,000 Kwik cricket sets have been distributed to schools around the country, and 347 new primary schoolclub links have been forged.

We are in the process of making the game more competitive. A new premier league for clubs has been launched in Birmingham, next year will see the launch of a two-division national league, and the eight leading sides in the Britannic Assurance Championship will compete for the "Super Cup".

We have done what we promised to do. However, we still need to invest heavily in coaching, teaching and facilities. That's why we welcome the Government's decision to take cricket off the "A" list of sports events.

This will enable us to negotiate a competitive price for our products and then inject more funds into cricket to help this wonderful game prosper.