Mills urges ECB major matches reform

Warwickshire’s treasurer Steven Mills has urged the England and Wales Cricket Board to “get off the fence” and agree a new way of allocating major matches.

The bidding process that has increased the number of English Test venues in recent seasons, but driven some counties to the brink of financial ruin, is expected to be replaced a revised system where matches will be packaged and sold in different and affordable categories.

The most attractive fixtures, in the Platinum category, are expected to go to Lord’s but Warwickshire believe that with a new pavilion at Edgbaston and an increased capacity of 25,000 they will be well-placed to attract lucrative fixtures such as Ashes Tests in 2013 and 2015.

But Mills has grown frustrated with the ECB’s delay in confirming the new major match allocation process. “They must be on their 61st or 62nd report now,” Mills told Warwickshire’s annual meeting at Edgbaston.

“They need to come off the fence and make a decision about the allocation of these matches because if they don’t there will be a financial earthquake somewhere.”

Warwickshire’s own finances took a battering last year as they made an operating loss of £2.2 million due to poor returns from international cricket featuring Pakistan at Edgbaston. “Generous Giles became Calamitous Clarke when he invited Pakistan here,” Mills said.

Mills admitted that Warwickshire were optimistic with their projected income from those matches and that the ECB were “optimistic on the guarantees they asked us to pay”.

Warwickshire’s awards for last season went to England’s Ian Bell (batting), England Lions seamer Chris Woakes (bowling) and Neil Carter (all-rounder). The Peter Cranmer Award for Most Improved Second XI Player went to all-rounder Steffan Piolet.

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