Durham find to their cost: It’s all about money

The Cricket Paper - - VIEWS & FEATURE -

DURHAMwere lucky to fin­ish fourth in Di­vi­sion One of the County Cham­pi­onship this year.

Sixth would have been a more re­al­is­tic spot as two nar­row wins were gained against Lan­cashire and War­wick­shire af­ter Jimmy An­der­son and Chris Woakes were only able to bowl in one in­nings of games against Durham.

Their ab­sences were key but I do feel for Durham’s present play­ers and former play­ers who have helped to get them where they are.

As a former Durham mem­ber in 1994 and 1995, I feel par­tic­u­larly sorry for the fans af­ter their rel­e­ga­tion and se­vere point penal­ties for the 2017 sea­son.

The county’s con­tri­bu­tion to English cricket was ad­mirably pointed out by Tim Wig­more in his piece ( TCP, Oc­to­ber 7).

Derek Pringle ( Oc­to­ber 7) also out­lined how Durham were not dis­cour­aged from their am­bi­tions but were not care­ful enough with the salary cap. Who is to blame? The ECB stand di­rectly in the fir­ing line, not least for in­sti­gat­ing the ruth­less bid­ding rights which force venues to pay ex­or­bi­tant fees to host Tests. The ECB’s pre­de­ces­sor, the TCCB might also have promised things that were not fea­si­ble when Durham were granted first-class sta­tus.

Peo­ple love to blame author­ity. It is the nat­u­ral thing as we have seen in pol­i­tics this year but other fac­tors should be borne in mind.

As Pringle pointed out Ch­ester-le-Street is not a nat­u­ral venue, be­ing a lit­tle too far from Durham or New­cas­tle for ca­sual fans. I of­ten re­mem­ber wait­ing at the windswept sta­tion there for an hour or more for a train from New­cas­tle to Mid­dles­brough on a Saturday evening.

There is cor­po­rate back­ing in the North East but it does not match that of the London venues or, to a lesser de­gree, Edg­bas­ton.

There is a strong love for the game among the North East pub­lic and I’d ar­gue the knowl­edge and pas­sion are stronger there than in af­flu­ent ar­eas.

How­ever, peo­ple gen­er­ally have much smaller pock­ets in Durham and can­not pay the prices that London venues in par­tic­u­lar can charge with im­punity.

Cricket is a game but, as in the words of the song:“It’s all about the money.”

I truly hope Durham can over­come eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tages to bounce back. If they do, it will be as a great a story as their on-field achieve­ments so far. DAVID RIMMER Hert­ford Heath

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