Marland withdraws from ECB race

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The Independent Online

Jonathan Marland, the former Conservative Party treasurer, has withdrawn from the election to become England and Wales Cricket Board chairman.

The Tory peer made a dramatic late challenge to Giles Clarke a fortnight ago, announcing his candidature just 24 hours before the deadline for nominations.

But in the past two weeks Lord Marland has become frustrated by the reaction of a third of the 18 first-class counties in refusing even to meet him to hear his views.

Marland said: "It is now clear to me that I will on this occasion be unable to obtain a majority of the votes required and, faced with the continued refusal of several counties even to meet with me, it is with disappointment that I am announcing my withdrawal from the election for the chairmanship of the ECB."

Clarke, who will now be voted in unopposed for a second term as ECB chairman when the ballot closes early next week, maintained a broad base of support from the majority of county chairmen.

The winner needed only 10 of the possible 19 votes to be successful but Marland was also dismayed when the MCC and Derbyshire, who had been expected to back him, decided instead to stay loyal to Clarke.

Lancashire, who proposed Marland's nomination with Hampshire and Leicestershire seconding, have since been highly critical of the way Clarke has performed in the job following his in 2007.

But Surrey, whose then chairman Michael Soper was the man who originally lost out to Clarke in a second ballot, did not come forward with their expected ringing endorsement of Marland's case.

Marland, a 52-year old financier and businessman, was also a major figure in Boris Johnson's successful campaign to become Mayor of London.

He added: "I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere congratulations to Giles Clarke, and also to thank all those who supported my bid and gave me such encouragement, not least all the cricket fans across the country who are clamouring for change in the way the game is run.

"I do hope that my candidacy will have helped to throw light on issues that need to be urgently addressed in English cricket, not least the absence of a structure which enables our excellent national players and team to flourish.

"The fractures within our domestic game, our standing with our traditional overseas partners and the finances of the sport have all combined to create a toxicity in our game.

"Most important for the future, we need to foster a new spirit of co-operation and once again sit at the top table internationally - that is the only platform from which English cricket can hope to prosper.

"All English cricket supporters will watch with interest how the ECB moves forward and demonstrates improvements to its governance and financial accountability, as befits a national game, and also to the future of Twenty20 cricket in England in relation to the much-trumpeted Stanford package.

"As he leads English cricket into a period that will be vital in determining its future, I wish Giles Clarke well in tackling these important issues."

Marland, who had pledged to raise a £100million capital fund for development across all 18 counties if elected as chairman, claimed that he still intended to help English cricket in any way he could - and that he had already expressed to Clarke his determination to do so.