ECB look to safe hands of Collier to take helm

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The Independent Online

The England and Wales Cricket Board will today unveil David Collier as its new chief executive. The 48-year-old, who has been holding down the same position at Nottinghamshire since 2000, replaces Tim Lamb following his resignation from the post during the summer.

The England and Wales Cricket Board will today unveil David Collier as its new chief executive. The 48-year-old, who has been holding down the same position at Nottinghamshire since 2000, replaces Tim Lamb following his resignation from the post during the summer.

The ECB interviewed 40 applicants for the most important administrative job in cricket initially. This list was reduced to nine, and then to three before a designated committee chose from Collier, Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, and Matthew Wheeler, an expert in sports marketing.

Collier's appointment will be seen by many as a conservative decision by the ECB. When Lamb stood down in May there were strong suggestions that the board would look outside the game for a figurehead, and head-hunt a major player in business. Collier has business experience outside cricket - including a spell in the travel, leisure and tourism division of Sema, a computer systems company from Cheshire - but a large proportion of his working career has been spent within the game.

Collier had spells with Essex, Gloucestershire and Leicestershire before his arrival at Nottinghamshire, but it was his impressive work at Trent Bridge, a Test ground now possessing facilities as good as any in the country, which ultimately won him the post at Lord's.

The former international hockey referee has rediscovered himself a few times. At Leicestershire he fought the corner of small counties and in Nottingham he did the same for a club that regularly holds international matches. But the experience gained from these stints should help him as he attempts to push changes in policy through the counties.

Collier arrives at Lord's with the reputation of being a shrewd, vibrant figure who is very good with figures and not afraid of ruffling a few feathers. But the power he is ultimately given will depend on how much of the Carpenter Report is adopted by the Management Board at the ECB. The aim of this report was to streamline the ECB and give greater decision-making responsibility to those in positions of authority.

In the past any proposal put forward by the ECB had to gain the support of the counties before it was activated and this proved to be hugely frustrating for Collier's predecessor. Lamb's reaction to these setbacks, along with the counties' view that he had little time for them, played a significant role in his departure.

Collier, as a member of the ECB Management Board, was one of the individuals opposing previous proposals for change. This will have gained him the trust of the counties, who will hope now to spend more time working with, rather than against, the board. But dealing with clubs reluctant to hand over any more power than necessary to the ECB, is sure to test his man-management skills.

Collier, who will take home a salary in excess of of £170,000 - second only to the England coach, Duncan Fletcher, at the ECB - takes over with the game in good health. The financial outlook - provided a new television contract is as lucrative as the last - is bright and after a summer of unparalleled success England now possess their strongest side for decades.

Collier will not be the only employee leaving Nottinghamshire this autumn following Kevin Pietersen's decision to pursue a career elsewhere. This is not the first time the South African-born batsman has attempted to leave Trent Bridge - a year ago a request to terminate his contract was refused - but after seeing out his final year he is a free agent.

The availability of Pietersen, who, after averaging over 55 for Nottinghamshire, was picked in England's one-day squad for the controversial tour of Zimbabwe, will attract interest from several counties. Surrey are sure to make the biggest financial offer but Lancashire, who yesterday announced that Mark Chilton will replace Warren Hegg as club captain, are certain to be in the bidding for a quality player after being relegated to the Second Division of the County Championship last summer. A dressing- room containing Pietersen and Dominic Cork will have an interesting aura to it.

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