An email conversation with cricketer Chris Read
'Branding the ICL a rebel league is ridiculous. It's political nonsense'
Monday 08 September 2008
It's been an extremely close Championship. How do you see it panning out between Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Durham and Kent in the next fortnight? This week's match between Durham and Somerset will go a long way to deciding who will win this year's Championship. Both sides have a game in hand on ourselves and Kent, and should there be a positive result, the winner of that game will really be in pole position. From our point of view a complete washout would be ideal!
How have you taken to captaincy and did you expect to do quite so well in your first season? I have enjoyed the captaincy immensely. I had a good deal of time to get used to the idea since, as soon as Stephen Fleming announced that he wouldn't be returning to Trent Bridge, Mick Newell approached me about taking on the position.
Many people said they would be big shoes to fill and they sure are, as I rate Flem as the best leader I have played under. But I felt having stood next to him in the field for three seasons allowed me to study his methods and learn as much as I could from him.
I am obviously extremely happy about our performances this year. Before the season, I made no predictions about where we would finish, I just wanted us to be competitive and gain some much needed consistency, which I think we have achieved. I believed that if we were there or thereabouts with a month to go anything could happen and that is the situation we find ourselves in.
I learnt a lot about what it takes to win a Championship back in 2005 and many things have to go right for you, not least injuries and weather. I have a feeling the weather may have an important part in determining this year's winners.
Is the Championship still considered the most prestigious of the competitions to win in county cricket? At Nottinghamshire the Championship is most definitely considered to be the most prestigious of competitions to win. I don't see that changing in the near future. It remains the most complete test of a team's abilities.
But won't the millions on offer in the Twenty20 Champions League begin to have an effect? The money on offer in the T20 competitions is indeed alluring and what was a bit of a novelty competition five years ago is fast becoming the one that everyone wants to win. The T20 competition is played exclusively over three to four weeks, is massively entertaining and asks different questions of the players. Its popularity will continue to grow and I believe counties will look to tailor their squads specifically for the month the competition runs. Rules regarding overseas players should be relaxed to allow counties to build their ideal T20 team but only for that month. I'd suggest that counties play a minimum seven English qualified players. However, the County Championship will remain the greatest test of a player's skill and a team's ability to perform consistently over six months.
So what is your view on overseas players in county cricket? There is no doubt in my mind that overseas players in our game raise the standard. I would like to see an end to all the overseas/ Kolpak debate and for the ECB to simplify the rules by imposing a minimum number of English qualified players in each team. My recommendation would be for nine English qualified players to play in each Championship team. The remaining spots can then be filled with players from wherever you like. For instance, if you want two Aussies in your four-day team, then so be it.
You went to play in – and win – the Indian Cricket League, which later became branded as a breakaway tournament. Any regrets? I really enjoyed playing in the inaugural ICL tournament and would love to participate again but, as the current situation stands, it is looking unlikely. Branding it as a "rebel" league is quite frankly ridiculous and I would love to see the ICC recognise it as an official tournament. As players, we just want to be able to cut through all the political nonsense and find out where we stand once and for all.
Do you still harbour ambitions to play for England? Have the selectors spoken to you lately? England selection rarely crosses my mind. My viewpoint has always been that if you provide an unquestionable argument to be selected you will be picked. The only way you can do this is by performing your job better than your contemporaries.
You played with Kevin Pietersen during what was sometimes a stormy time at Nottinghamshire. Give an assessment of his early days as England captain. KP has had a dream start. He knows there will be tougher times in the future and to a certain extent it is how he copes with these as to how he will be judged.
Is the future of the game looking secure? I think there is a bright future for the game in general as long as the big decisions regarding the game's structure are not rushed and are well thought out. Obviously, there is a lot of money coming into the game and predominantly in support of the shorter form. This is all well and good so long as the future of the longer form is safeguarded.
Can England win the Ashes next summer? England have an excellent balance to their side right now and I see no reason why they cannot mount a sizeable challenge in next year's Ashes. Prior to winning the Ashes in 2005 England had gained good momentum in the previous few series. I think success this winter will be crucial in building confidence leading up to the big one next year.
Attachment: The Chris Read lowdown
*Born 10 August, 1978, Paignton, Devon
*Height 5ft 8in
*Fielding position Wicketkeeper
*Tests 15 Runs 360 Highest score 55 Average 18.94 Last Test Australia v England at Sydney, 2-5 Jan, 2007
*One-day internationals 36 Runs 300 Highest score 30* Average 17.64
*Career highlights Won 2005 Championship with Notts and inaugural Indian Cricket League with the Chennai Superstars
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