Mark Nicholas: Clarke must pay the price for poor decision making

It now appears we should not have been so surprised by the news that Allen Stanford is under investigation by US authorities. The warning signs appear to have been there from before the England and Wales Cricket Board leapt into bed with him. It was, and for ever will be, a one-night stand of appalling taste and judgement.

The call for Giles Clarke’s head is fair enough, for it is he who has presided over an ugly and ill- conceived period of cricket administration – if you thought they had a laugh from Mumbai to Melbourne about the Pietersen/Moores fiasco, you should hear the howls of derision at the Stanford revelations.

But there is a more serious issue here than the right and wrong of the Stanford deal and its moral implication. After all, plenty of sports are supported by the banking world, where financial affairs have hardly been above board.

Much the most alarming point to come out of it all is that the quality and direction of the chairman’s decision making has been horrifyingly exposed. It is not even so much the current collapse of Stanford and his affairs; more that he was glorified by a board desperate to offset the embarrassment of irretrievable and expensive breakdowns first with India and then with South Africa and Australia.

These cost English cricket its share of the billion-dollar television deal for the Champions Twenty20 League – another IPL spin-off.

Clarke instead turned to the Caribbean and the Texan who could not convince anyone else to play with, or for, his money. Political expediency was leaked as a reason for the sudden tie up with West Indies cricket – votes count at the altar of the ICC – but the truth is that the chairman needed to appease restless England players, who were salivating at the riches available in the IPL and, even more urgently, he needed a trophy.

This is what he appears to be, a trophy hunter for his time at the helm of the English game and a financial one at that. With each tranche of money allocated to the counties, he has been able to act as their saviour and those without a viable or sustainable business model of their own have fallen at his feet.

But he does not appear to have given the game at large the pastoral care it needs. How could the Pietersen/ Moores situation have been allowed to develop in the first place, never mind become so public? Why were the imaginative group of board constituents who drafted a model for an original and potentially lucrative English Premier League, not allowed a hearing? Who has built the Chance to Shine smokescreen, pedalling the notion that money from the Stanford deal would find the pockets of the charity that is bringing cricket back into state schools and which the ECB so loves to talk about as if it was its own.

Three other excellent potential candidates – Sir Christopher Gent, Nigel Wray and Anthony Wreford – were approached to stand against Clarke but had neither the time nor the inclination to sell themselves for a song. In this case, the consequences of amateur rule are plain to see. Cleverly, Clarke has created the position of a full-time, unpaid though, in effect, executive chairman. It is a job few people of substance are prepared to undertake and those who are, such as the ballsy Lord Marland, find themselves hamstrung by the system of election. Five counties refused to meet Marland.

A last-minute beauty parade is unsatisfactory and unfair. There needs to be a transparent election process that allows candidates a specific period on the campaign trail, rather as if the counties were constituencies. Either that or the board must become a tighter and more relevant body that elects from within. This is the case in Australia, where the board of Cricket Australia comprises businessmen, administrators and eminent former players without vested interest in their own states.

Clarke may not yet have been torn apart but it’s not looking good. Michael Atherton said that the chairman must be judged by the consequences of his actions and many of these are already damaging. If his election is ratified for a further term, the game must expect more of the same.

So it is that English cricket chooses to appoint its leaders and conduct its affairs. It is a system established in the days of the horse and cart. There is a global financial crisis hammering far more robust structures than county cricket. Moral bankruptcy is one thing, the financial version would be quite another. He still has the television deal with Sky to fall back on but not much else. That deal was easy – he told us so himself. The world post-Stanford may be rather less generous.

Mark Nicholas captained Hampshire and now commentates on cricket in England and Australia

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?