Dear Mr Graves,
As you’re about to take up the position of ECB chairman I thought I would tell you how I and so many England fans are feeling right now. We have had enough. Enough of defensive negative play. Enough of the same tired old excuses. Enough of being told that we are outside cricket and our views don’t matter. You have the power, you have the responsibility and you have the opportunity to do something about all that.
Your background is encouraging and we’re told that you don’t tolerate failure. We were heartened by your actions in dismissing Paul Downton and in assuring us that changes would be made if we failed to beat the West Indies. We don’t believe that calling them “mediocre” caused us to lose the series. We believe that poor selections and lack of leadership caused us to draw this series. In fact it is typical of the current England management team to want a scapegoat. It was Kevin Pietersen for the last Ashes and now it’s you for this series. We say “nonsense”. If Moores and Cook refuse to take responsibility then you have a duty to dismiss them.
We are concerned though by reports that Andrew Strauss is set to be appointed to the new Director of Cricket role. We feel that Strauss’s brand of leadership is part of the problem. His partnership with Andy Flower, while successful, also led to a joyless form of cricket that sucked everything good out of the game. Furthermore while you have said that no-one is excluded from selection, Andrew Strauss has described a Kevin Pietersen England return as an unwanted distraction. His off-the-record comments make clear his contempt for England’s leading run-scorer and you may have opened a door for Pietersen but Strauss intends to slam it shut again.
Part of your job is also to decide whether Alastair Cook is the best man to lead England. This has to be based on his captaincy abilities and not spurious claptrap about being from the right sort of family. Appointing one of his personal friends to the Director of Cricket role seems an odd way to begin wholesale reform and change of the current, failed, setup. Andrew Strauss is the “more of the same” candidate.
You become chairman of an ECB which continues to leak to favoured journalists while denying it – a leak I trust you will be investigating. That sacks Paul Downton for a disastrous tenure yet promotes the man who appointed him, and will hear no criticism of his own actions, to honorary president. And that has a chief selector who, in combination with the coach and captain, manages to pick two exciting young cricketers for the West Indies tour and then fail to give either a game. It will be no easy task to reform it but if you don’t get them, they will get you.
So Mr Graves, show us that your words actually mean something. Show us that if Andrew Strauss is going to take the job, it is on your terms and he will work with the captain and coach that you decide to appoint. We fans are quite excited by the prospect of someone like Jason Gillespie taking charge. We would like to see some role for Michael Vaughan but most of all we want a change in the culture of secrecy, of leaking, of instinctive defensiveness both in interviews and on the pitch. We want an England team that we can get behind and feel proud of and we thought you wanted that too. The time for words is over and now is the time to back them up with actions.
England Cricket Fan