Gatting's route to success
Pathways are set to play a major part in Mike Gatting’s new role as ECB managing director cricket partnerships.
He will create them, develop them and smooth them with one overriding aim: to raise standards across all levels of cricket in England.
His brief is massive and cuts across all quarters of the game, but primarily it is down to him to get the component parts that constitute the national game - be it schools, clubs, counties, academies, trusts and foundations, groups, organisations and institutions - all working together to create a strong and seamless structure.
He has been in the job for less than two weeks and has already identified a number of key areas that he feels need his attention. With 50 years of experience behind him, most of which have been spent on a cricket field, he is highly qualified and supremely well placed to cast his eye and make things happen.
Gatting started playing cricket as a schoolboy in Neasden in the 1960s and at the age of 17 made his debut for Middlesex, having represented England Young Cricketers a year earlier.
He made his Test bow in 1977 on England’s tour of Pakistan and played 79 Tests over the next 18 years, 23 of them as captain, before bowing out in the Ashes match at Perth in 1995. He remains the last England captain to win the Ashes in Australia after the triumph of 1986/7.
Over his Test career, he saw the game from every perspective - from struggling rookie to seasoned campaigner, and as victor and victim - and in the 12 years since he retired has collected a few more vantage points as coach, manager, selector and commentator, a practised committee member (MCC and Chance to Shine) emissary (President of PCA and Lord’s Taverners), and dignitary.
It is exactly this breadth of experience and vision that will enable him to identify new opportunities to bridge any divides that stand in the way of progress.
Already, that experience and unique perspective has been brought to bear in women’s cricket during one of his first meetings in the new role.
“I met with the women’s regional development managers the other day and it struck me that it would be sensible to use our England players to work with Chance to Shine, which I have been involved with since it started in 2005,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“It would give the girls more support in their quest to become professional cricketers and it would provide extra resources for the Cricket Foundation in furthering their campaign to regenerate competitive cricket in state schools.”
Every aspect of the first-class and recreational game will come under Gatting’s scrutiny.
Age-group cricket needs restructuring, the Premier Leagues need examination to work out why some are flourishing and others are not, facilities everywhere need to be improved and the county Academy system requires wholesale review to establish why it is not turning out the numbers of players originally envisaged.
The role of the county second XIs will also be assessed with a view to beefing up their importance in the ECB’s network of pathways.
And so the list goes on. With such a wide brief, Gatting will inevitably spend time in the first few weeks listening and understanding.
“This is a new role and it might take six months to establish priorities,” he added. “I have some excellent people in place who are already doing a great job but initially my job is to understand their jobs.
“There are other teams we need to get in place and budgets we need to find to improve our resources.
“I see my job as one of communication, of getting across the message about what we are doing and why, so that everyone works towards improving standards and facilities. The initial task is huge.
“I would hope that I can bring some common sense to the job and I would like to think that people will listen to me.
“Hopefully, as a former England player and captain, they will accept and respect what I have to say.”