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