Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 24th April 2024

Collier backs march to wider cricket governance

By Charles Randall

10 March 2016

David Collier, the former ECB chief executive, has joined the board of the Club Cricket Conference at a time when the landscape in domestic cricket has begun to change, with the ECB in talks about forming a new governing body for the recreational sector.

Collier finished his year as Conference president, a term that marked the centenary, and he has agreed to maintain his connection with grassroots cricket as a board member. 

At the Conference's annual meeting at Lord's this week Bob McLeod (Sutton CC) replaced Collier as president for 2016 and Robbie Book (Totteridge-Millhillians CC) took over as chairman from Alf Langley, who oversaw a six-year period of significant progress in the well-being of the recreational game.

Book told the meeting that the voluntary board of directors would be strengthened by the experience and expertise of Collier, Pip George, chairman of the Essex Board, Lonsdale Skinner, from the African Caribbean Cricket Association, and Dipu Patel, of the Sunday-only Middlesex Premier League. The board seemed well placed to shape a new era of governance in a wide spectrum of cricket. 

The ECB are due to hold a further meeting on 11 April with the National Cricket Conference,  the organisation formed in 2014 to represent the Club Cricket Conference, Midlands Cricket Conference and the northern-based League Conference. Over the past year discussions have taken place between the ECB and Simon Prodger, the National Cricket Conference managing director, to rationalise the governance of cricket at all levels.

Book said: "It is a recognition of our commitment to ensuring that we have an influence on the development of recreational cricket across the range of the amateur game. The South Asian and African Caribbean cricketing groups we have helped to develop recently bear testimony to our progress. The Conference, through its relationship with the National Cricket Conference, will with some effort over the next few years be the catalyst for change and increased participation."

Progress towards a unified body to oversee recreational cricket followed hard on the news that the ECB would be extending county T20 cricket in 2017 to move professional county cricket towards self-sufficiency while reducing the four-day championship to 14 matches. The T20 Blast, as it will be called, will dominate July and August in two blocks, contested on a regional basis and culminating in the usual finals day. According to the ECB, the idea is to make the best use of the summer holiday period to attract a "wide family-based audience", encourage participation in the game and focus the skills of players. The format has long been popular in parks and club cricket.

The Club Cricket Conference, by supplying professional administration and a full-time development manager in Gulfraz Riaz, has been the main driving force in the last three years in affiliating ethnic and Sunday leagues to widen grassroots representation. In 2015 they set up the inauguration of the National Asian Cricket Council as another major step towards integrating all cricket.

Book commented: "The cricket clubs which we have historically represented are actually now the establishment - the old guard of amateur sport.  Grassroots cricket in this century is not only played on club grounds but in parks and on council grounds, in the twilight zone of midweek evenings -- ill-served for purpose and unrecognised by the establishment."

Looking to this year, he added:  "The new regime for recreational cricket at ECB has all the hallmarks of a change in the right direction. The Conference is not asking ECB what they can do for us.  We are offering our services to them, and complementary to the County Boards, so that our experience and understanding of grassroots cricket can provide a platform for increased recognised participation of all cricketers within our sphere of influence."

The new CCC board will comprise Book, McLeod, as president, Langley, Becky Fairlie-Clarke, Keir Hopley, John Poore, Charlie Puckett, Stuart Whitehead, as the new secretary, Sam Burge, as new treasurer, Prodger, George, Collier, Skinner, Patel and Mark Williams.