Former England captains Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff are due to be reunited on a cricket field for the first time in three years this summer when they turn out at a fund-raising match in Cheshire.
They will be part of an England XI that will take on the Grappenhall first team in a 20-over contest during the August Bank Holiday weekend. They are doing so as a favour to their long-time agent Neil Fairbrother, who emerged through the ranks with, and then came out of retirement for, ‘Grappers’ last year.
It seems like their presence – and that of David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, who will provide entertainment on the microphone – has already had the desired effect on club funds as tickets have sold out. Vaughan and Flintoff’s last match as team-mates was the former’s final Test against South Africa at Edgbaston in August 2008 – he quit the captaincy the following day.
In something of a throwback to previous generations, Leicestershire are encouraging greater inter-action between their playing staff and members.
Chiefly through a new 2011 initiative of a regular Q and A, where club supporters are encouraged to pop into the Fox Bar to chat to a selected player. Captain Matthew Hoggard kicked off the scheme – which will take place after the third day’s play of every County Championship contest at Grace Road – against Glamorgan last week.
Nottinghamshire’s capture of Riki Wessels on a two-year contract, following his securing of the now outlawed Tier 1 Entrepeneur Visa, was a magnet for some mild criticism, perhaps understandably following the ECB’s robust attempts to limit the number of non-qualified players on the county scene – the stricter guidelines on Kolpak players reduced the number from the 30s at the end of the 2009 season to the low 20s at the start of this summer.
Although there is no solid evidence to support the theory, the thinking of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s cricket committee appears to be that the more young English players exposed to county action, the stronger the England team will be.
Nobody can quibble about the volume of young English players blooded in recent years by reigning county champions Notts, with Alex Hales, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel and Luke Fletcher all first-team regulars, nor the number of players that have played international cricket since the drive began – Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom among them.
But eyebrows might migrate north when you consider that the ECB’s cricket committee is chaired by Peter Wright. Yes, Nottinghamshire chairman Peter Wright.
Memo to the International Cricket Council: spend less time on World Cups and more on tournament logos. No sooner had the latest marathon event finished in India than the media was presented with the 2015 artwork – uncannily similar to the 2011 version in style, but given an antipodean flavour through the presence of Maori and Aboriginal symbols and markings. My bet is it didn’t take two months to eliminate other entries.