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Botham angered by Coughlin exit

England icon calls on governing body to "remove the potential for conflict of interest" after homegrown Durham player's signing with rival county

Durham chairman Sir Ian Botham has questioned the England and Wales Cricket Board after highly-rated allrounder Paul Coughlin's decision to leave the embattled club, with the former Test star suggesting conflicts of interest exist on the national selection panel.

Frustrated at Coughlin's signing with rival county Nottinghamshire, Botham took aim at the ECB in a lengthy statement posted on Durham's official website.


Nottinghamshire's director of cricket Mick Newell doubles as an England selector, and while Botham didn't specifically single out Newell, the 102-Test veteran called on the ECB to prevent selectors from holding dual roles with domestic sides. 

Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser is also a national selector, alongside Newell, Australian-born England coach Trevor Bayliss, ECB's director of cricket Andrew Strauss and James Whitaker.

Botham, who has held the chairmanship at Durham since last November, also proposed an overhaul of the current transfer system and lamented the lack of incentive for clubs to nurture homegrown players.

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"It concerns me that the current arrangements within cricket do not reward counties that invest in Academies and produce exciting young English players," Botham said in the Durham statement.

"The ECB is currently reviewing its partnership agreement with the Counties and Durham will be making strong representations to properly reward those that invest in the development of local talent. 

"They need to introduce a transfer or similar system of compensation, to remove the potential for conflict of interest by preventing serving Directors of Cricket acting as selectors and to better regulate the behaviour of agents.

"In the meantime, Durham County Cricket Club will devote all of its available resources to putting together a squad of players that are committed to the Club and share our ambition to return to the first division and winning trophies."

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Coughlin's departure comes after one-Test allrounder Scott Borthwick and England's likely Ashes opening batsman Mark Stoneman left the club after the 2016 season.

Despite finishing fourth in Division One of the County Championship, Durham were relegated last year and handed a 48-point penalty for the 2017 season as a condition of a £3.8 million (AUD $6.1 million) ECB financial aid package. They were also barred from hosting Test cricket at their Riverside venue.

Botham believes the club's current situation played a major role in Coughlin's decision to join Nottinghamshire.


"I respect Paul's right to move clubs and understand that players at certain times in their careers may want to move on," Botham said. 

"However; it's without question that our Second Division status, points penalties and difficult financial situation has created an opportunity for rival Counties and intermediaries to unsettle players with promises of First Division cricket, greater England opportunities and immediate financial reward.

"Despite offering Paul – a player we have nurtured through our academy system and someone we hold in extremely high regard – a very competitive contract extension, our devoted support during periods of injury, continuous development and leadership opportunities; the player has chosen to leave Durham."

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Newell in 2014 stressed his appointment as a selector would not conflict with his role at Nottinghamshire. 

"I want to pick the best players for England. I wouldn't compromise that by picking a Notts player who wasn't ready," he said at the time.

"I also want to make it clear that I wouldn't use my new position to get players to join Notts. We've never had any great problem attracting the best players to  Trent Bridge in any case."

Nottinghamshire have this season won both the one-day and T20 domestic competitions, and remain in the hunt for promotion to Division One of the County Championship.

Durham on the other hand sit second-bottom of the Division Two Championship standings and have been unable to overcome their sizeable points handicap.

Coughlin, currently sidelined with a season-ending side injury, has collected 27 wickets at under 30 in the four-day competition this season and has added 364 runs at 36.40 with three half-centuries. The seamer was also Durham's leading wicket-taker in the T20 Blast.