Changes afoot at Loughborough as David Parsons leaves ECB role


The ECB have announced that David Parsons is to leave his role as England Cricket’s Performance Director in July.

Parsons joined the ECB in 2000 as National Coach, was promoted to National Spin Bowling Coach in 2005 and was appointed to role of ECB Performance Director in 2007. Since then, he has overseen the development of the England men’s pathways, including the running of the National Performance Centre at Loughborough University.

His departure may well signal the start of a significant restructure of the ECB’s ‘pathway’ programme. There has, for some time, been disquiet about the lack of relative lack of performance of the pathway in comparison to the investment made and, when Ashley Giles was employed was director of the England men’s teams, part of his remit was to both cut costs and improve the output of Loughborough.

The development of fast and spin bowling is likely to focus much of his attention. The fast bowling programme has already been discontinued on the basis that it cost lots and delivered little, with recent graduates seemingly more likely to suffer injury than improve in pace or potency.

Much the same could be said about the development of spin, with Kent’s decision to release Adam Riley – not so long ago thought of an off-spinner with Test potential – last week adding credence to the theory that Loughborough sometimes does more harm than good. Certainly the inference of comments from Paul Downton, the Kent director of cricket, was not flattering.

“Adam has been with Kent for a long time,” Downton told the BBC. “We remember back to 2014 when he had a great summer with Kent, was being talked about in the press as a future England spinner and won a place on the England Lions tour.

“Unfortunately, while on that tour working with the Lions coaches he tried to bowl a bit quicker and, in doing so, he lost his action. He’s now spent nearly five years trying to find his way back to that kind of form. But I think we got to a point where we just realised it wasn’t going to work from his point of view, or our point of view.”

As a result, the futures of Kevin Shine, the ECB’s lead fast bowling coach, and Peter Such, the ECB’s lead spin bowling coach, would appear to be particularly uncertain.

There may be change to the Lions programme, too. While there is an understanding that playing in such a team narrows the gap between the international and domestic games, the reluctance of counties to schedule fixtures during the English season – they play just one first-class game this season – has diminished the need for any sort of permanent restructure around it.

That could lead to a change of role for Andy Flower, the former England coach. He is clearly a man with knowledge and experience that is an asset to the ECB, but it could be he has outgrown most of the roles available to him at the organisation. He has recently applied for a county job or two – he narrowly missed out on the Warwickshire role that went to Paul Farbrace – but it may be a job with a county or even another country now beckons.

It is likely the ECB will announce more overseas placements for young players in future. Not only would this prove cheaper, it is thought likely to encourage independence and maturity among developing players. Some at the ECB are concerned that some young players have become just a little soft and just a little entitled by their early exposure to England age-group teams. A period fending for themselves, it is reasoned, may do them no harm.

Either way, change is coming to Loughborough. A cut in the number in staff is likely, with those who remain asked to be a great deal more accountable.

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