Chairman of TCCB goes on offensive

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The Independent Online
England were labelled a third-rate team by the top man in the game in this country before the loss to South Africa. Dennis Silk, the Test and County Cricket Board chairman, launched an astonishing attack on the state of the English game in a Sunday newspaper after watching England against New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

The Mail on Sunday quoted Silk as claiming that England deserve a world ranking of no higher than seven, and that the lesser cricketing nations are closing the gaps in standards quickly.

"I would think we come about seventh in the rankings of international cricket," Silk is quoted as saying. "It was salutary to see how well Holland played against us and to think, with their limited resources, they were not far away in terms of performance.

"We have to compare ourselves with the best and the fact is, we do not appear to be making any progress. Rather, we are dropping further behind those with whom we are competing."

Silk added: "We have no batsman ranked in the top five, no bowler in the top 10 and we have no world class spinner. That is a worry when you realise we have the only fully professional cricket structure in the world.

"There are those who say that it is all cyclical, that it will be alright on the night. I simply don't believe them."

Silk advocates a national cricket academy, that international players be contracted to the Board rather than counties, and a more competitive domestic structure.

Silk believes the academy should be run along the same lines as the one in Australia. "Most of our counties feel a national academy is an irrelevance, that they can do all that is necessary through their own centres of excellence.

"My point is that a national standard needs to be set for other bodies to model themselves on, with the best coaches from all over the world using the most modern methods. Let's bring together the top 20 young cricketers in the country and devote all our energies to giving them the best possible training.

"As far as contracting players is concerned, Allan Donald said recently if he was subjected to the routine of English county cricket, he wouldn't last three years.

"As for the domestic structure, we should have a regional competition allied to a county championship. What we need is a truly competitive first- class game."