Schofield report proposes new supremo

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The Independent Online

Plans to install a new England management team, create bigger performance incentives for England players and cut the county programme are at the heart of a radical shake-up of English cricket to be unveiled today.

The proposals, which will be outlined at Headingley as England prepare for the second Test against West Indies, follow the former European golf tour director Ken Schofield's report into the state of the English game, commissioned after last winter's 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia. They were presented to the England and Wales Cricket Board on Tuesday and today's announcement will reveal how many recommendations are likely to be taken up.

The creation of three new positions at the head of the international management team is likely to be broadly welcomed but the suggested changes to the structure of the county game, which include scrapping the Pro40 one-day competition, are already stirring opposition.

Schofield arrived at his findings with the help of a committee comprising the former England coach Micky Stewart, The Independent cricket correspondent and former England fast bowler Angus Fraser, the former international captain Nasser Hussain and three other ex-England players, Nick Knight, Hugh Morris and Brian Rose.

They concluded that the England team management structure should be headed by a full-time professional managing director, ideally with high-level business experience as well as cricket knowledge, to whom selectors and coach would be answerable but who would also be expected to give England a more muscular influence in shaping a currently congested international calendar. Speculation has suggested that Lord MacLaurin, the former ECB chief executive, could return in the new position, which could also appeal to Sir John Major, the former prime minister and current Surrey president.

The Schofield team believes there should also be a full-time national selector with responsibility for picking England teams at home and on tour. Under the current structure, sides for home Tests are picked by a committee headed by the chairman of selectors David Graveney but on tour by the captain and coach.

The third new post would be a director of county cricket, who would act as a selector but also provide better communications between the England team and the counties.

Graveney is expected to apply for the new national selector's position while current selector Geoff Miller is a candidate to be director of county cricket. The new post of managing director, however, threatens to leave John Carr, the current director of England cricket, without a role.

The England coach Peter Moores would remain a selector but would be answerable to the managing director and have less power than his predecessor, Duncan Fletcher.

The report says that more effort should have been made to retain the services of the bowling coach Troy Cooley, who quit in 2005 to take up a similar role with Australia after England had offered him only a one-year contract when he had requested a two-year deal.

There is also a call for more incentives to be built into the central contract system, so that payments to contracted England players reflect the number of times they are picked. If the report is implemented, the England team would also play six home Test matches each summer instead of the current seven, although commercial considerations make this unlikely.

It is thought that none of those proposals is likely to be met with significant opposition by the 12-strong ECB board. However, that cannot be said of the suggested changes to the domestic programme.

The Pro-40 competition, introduced last season in place of the 45-over national league, attracted reservations from the start because it does not match the 50-over format for international one-day cricket. The Schofield team felt it should be abandoned and more emphasis given to the 50-over Friends Provident Trophy.

But 40-over cricket remains popular with spectators. Dropping it from the fixture list, as well as reducing the county championship from 16 rounds to 12, would be strongly resisted.

The Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes said his club had seen one-day crowds fall when the original 40-overs Sunday League disappeared. "Crowds fell when the format changed. People used to like watching a game from two o'clock on a Sunday and were not so keen on 50-over games starting at 10.45am," he said.

Richard Gould, the Somerset chief executive whose chairman, Giles Clarke, is an ECB board member, said 40-over cricket was second only to Twenty20 in popularity last season. "Crowds for Pro-40 matches tended to be 3,000-4,000 compared with 2,500 at 50-over games and 1,000 for the championship," he said. "Clearly there would be a financial impact but also you have to be careful not to disenfranchise the support at county level."

New order: Main proposals of game's overhaul

* A managing director to be appointed oversee all aspects of England team.

* National selector to replace chairman of selectors, heading panel of coach and director of county cricket at home and coach and captain on tour.

* County cricket director to forge closer links with counties and England team, and report to coach on player performances.

* Coach Peter Moores to retain selection duties but with less power than predecessor Duncan Fletcher.

* Reduction in home Tests from seven to six.

* Reduction in county programme from four competitions to three, scrapping the Pro40 league.

* Contracted England players to be given bigger performance incentives.

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