Chris Waters: Spectators should boycott games in protest at ECB lunacy

Managing director of England Cricket Paul Downton, left, and England head coach Peter Moores.
Managing director of England Cricket Paul Downton, left, and England head coach Peter Moores.
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OUT with the old, in with the new.

It is all change at the top of English cricket following the appointment of Peter Moores as coach and Paul Farbrace as his assistant.

Some things, however, never seem to alter.

Namely, the contempt in which the England and Wales Cricket Board hold the County Championship and its loyal supporters.

It is easy, of course, to lampoon the ECB.

Blame them for this, blame them for that, blame them for everything wrong with the game that we love.

But what else can we do when they withdraw players from a round of County Championship games to prepare for a one-day international against… wait for it… Scotland.

What a kick in the teeth that is for the competition and those who support it. As you are no doubt aware, and hopefully don’t care, England play Scotland in Aberdeen on Friday.

To prepare for this vital encounter, they are heading to Loughborough for a two-day training camp, where the players will no doubt work on their “skill-sets” as some of them haven’t played any one-day cricket oh, for a good few weeks at least.

Consequently, none of the 13 players selected – including Yorkshire’s Joe Root and Gary Ballance – can take part in this week’s Championship games.

Root and Ballance will be missing against Durham at Chester-le-Street, one of six matches directly affected by the England call-ups.

As anyone who has read these ramblings over the past decade will know (and you really must see your doctor about that), I do not hold a candle for 50-over cricket.

In fact, I would quite happily see that candle extinguished and for no games of such duration to be played at all, leaving only first-class cricket and Twenty20 contests.

But personal preference aside, it simply cannot be right for England’s premier domestic tournament – and the Championship is the premier tournament, despite what the money men say – to be compromised so that players can train for a one-off match against an ICC associate nation.

It devalues the competition and is contemptuous of spectators.

The questions I would ask are these…

Are the likes of Root and Ballance going to become better players by missing a Championship game to train at Loughborough?

Are they going to benefit more from taking part in yet more witless preparation than facing the likes of Graham Onions at Chester-le-Street?

Are the 13 players selected so miserably incapable of adapting their games from four-day to one-day that they have to specifically train to make this transition?

Is this training and preparation not simply about justifying the jobs of coaching staff?

I know what I think the answers to those questions are and, if I was a spectator, as opposed to someone paid to be at Chester-le-Street, I would boycott the match in protest.

I would take my ball home – and stay there.

Perhaps if everyone did that, the ECB would get the message that it is simply unacceptable 
for spectators to be treated like this.