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Ian Botham criticises ECB for allowing Durham stars to be poached

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

By Adam Ellis

Sir Ian Botham has proposed radical measures to be adopted by the ECB to prevent Durham stars from being signed by county rivals.

Highly-rated T20 captain Paul Coughlin became the latest player to leave Durham over the past year as Nottinghamshire completed a three-year deal for the all-rounder, much to the frustrations of the Durham chairman and England legend.

“It’s without question that our Second Division status, points penalties and difficult financial situation has created an opportunity for rival counties and intermediaries to unsettle players.

“It concerns me that the current arrangements within cricket do not reward counties that invest in academies and produce exciting young English players.

Made vulnerable by debts totalling £7.5million, Durham were relegated by the ECB last season as part of a financial aid package to ease financial worries. This despite Hampshire finishing last and a fighting effort by the Durham players to finish fourth.

Coughlin came through the promising academy at Chester-le-Street and in an attempt to see the county realise their potential, Botham suggested the ECB introduce a transfer system to help Division Two clubs.

“The ECB need to introduce a transfer or similar system of compensation, to remove the potential for conflict of interest by preventing serving Directors of Cricket acting as selectors and to better regulate the behaviour of agents.”

It’s no secret at top-order batting star Keaton Jennings is on the verge of following Coughlin to Trent Bridge by signing for Notts within the next few days.

Both Coughlin and Jennings have been at Durham for five years and would join Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick in leaving Durham in the past year.

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