TCCB replaced by ECB

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The Independent Online

The Test and County Board, the game's ruling body for almost 30 years, yesterday voted itself into oblivion. Instead, in a unanimous decision taken by the 18 counties and the MCC, it will be replaced by the England and Wales Board, a progressive body especially streamlined to take English cricket forward into the next millennium.

As ever, the reality is not quite as straightforward and before the ECB can start trading as an entity - scheduled for 1 January next year - the whole resolution has to be rubber stamped at a meeting of the National Association on 16 October. As recipients of funds currently controlled by the TCCB, that is expected to be a formality.

As one of the old satellite bodies involved in the game, the NCA will now come under the broad umbrella of the ECB - whose pyramid structure and all-encompassing constitution were laid out in the Morgan Report - who will take responsibility for cricket from the grass roots to the international stage. A boon for those whose cricket playing in the past, has relied on sporadic finances and self-help schemes.

The new pyramidal structure will be headed by the management board, a body of 14 vote-carrying individuals chaired by Lord McLaurin, the chairman elect of the ECB. It will be their job to implement and oversee the changes necessary to fulfil the ECB's manifesto - one of whose claims is: "to attain success at all levels of international competition''.

However, one of the stumbling blocks is that whatever changes the management board propose for the betterment of the first-class and international game - for instance, a two division County Championship or the resting of Test players - they have now to be put and then passed by a body known as the First Class Forum.

Essentially the FCF is the old TCCB by another name, although in future, all proposals will merely require a simple majority to be passed, rather than the two-thirds majority needed under the old system.

It was the resurrection of this old brick wall that was thought most likely to attract dissension from counties such as Warwickshire, Surrey and Lancashire, whose interests in having a strong Test team have long outweighed the more blinkered visions of those not owning a Test ground.

Which all makes yesterday's wholehearted acceptance of the Morgan Report's proposals all the more promising, with self-interest being temporarily shelved in lieu of a brighter future.

Whether this bonhomie will remain is a moot point, and some believe the first-class game will never progress while the FCF retains the powers proposed under the ECB. Unless Lord McLaurin and his management board can lead without constant consultation, little will have changed. As The Who once warned: "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.''