Miller wins new selector post

Geoff Miller, the former England all-rounder, has been named as the inaugural National Selector, the recently-created post to oversee all matters of national selection. He has won the position in preference to David Graveney, Chairman of Selectors for 11 years.

The news was announced at an ECB press-conference at Lord’s today. The new role encompasses both home and overseas selection duties, and Miller will thus travel with the team to New Zealand in a fortnight’s time.

Miller has been a member of the selection panel for over 7 years, first partaking in the summer of 2000. Two new appointments have been made to the panel in Ashley Giles and James Whitaker, and it is completed by England coach Peter Moores. Graveney will now take the job of Performance Manager, designated to oversee the County Academy programme of all 18 First-Class counties.

The new National Selector role was recommended in the Schofield Report, commissioned by the ECB after the winter of 20067. The candidates were assessed by ECB deputy chairman Dennis Amiss, chief executive David Collier, and managing director of England Cricket Hugh Morris. New ECB chairman Giles Clarke was known to have favoured Miller. Morris said of Miller: “Geoff is the ideal person to take on this new and important role of National Selector. He has played at the highest level, possesses in-depth knowledge of the domestic game and as a member of the selection panel for the past seven years he has extensive experience of the selection process.”

Miller himself reflected: “It’s an honour and a privilege to be in this position. Hopefully I’ll come in with a very fresh perspective. David did things in an exemplary manner and our friendship will not alter one iota, but I’ve got my own views, in the changing-room and outside.”

Miller has carved-out a separate career as an after-dinner speaker, but he insisted this would not impact upon his duties as chief selector. “Speaking is part of my life, a part of me, it’s the entertainment business,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of standing up and talking for half an hour and hopefully making people laugh, when I get out to dinners I’m promoting the cause of English cricket – before dinner, during dinner, after dinner.”

Graveney has enjoyed a long career at the head of the selection panel. He was appointed on 13th March 1997, initially working alongside Graham Gooch, Mike Gatting, England coach David Lloyd and captain Michael Atherton. Atherton was gone by the summer of 1998, Lloyd by the start of the Test series (which England lost disastrously) in 1999, and Gooch and Gatting were sacked midway through that tempestuous summer. Between 2000 and 2006, when Miller and Duncan Fletcher were involved, the only change aside from captains Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan was the brief addition of the then Academy head coach Rodney Marsh.

One of the few people well placed to offer an assessment of both Graveney and Miller as selectors was Hussain, captain between 1999 and 2003. In his autobiography Playing With Fire, Hussain offered fulsome praise of Miller, along with Fletcher: “What Duncan Fletcher and Geoff Miller have done is to stop us going round the houses and back to square one by trying to identify class and sticking with it… most get a proper chance now, once they’re selected.”

On the other hand, he offered only measured praise of Graveney: “He would listen to anyone, be influenced by too many people. He would ask Ian Botham who he thought should be in the England side. He would ask Bob Willis. He would ask cricket correspondents… I like David Graveney. He cares. He wants English cricket to do well. He makes the hard phonecalls. But again, I think he’s too interested in trying to protect his own job, and in his case he does that by trying to keep everybody happy and being too quick to worry about what the press are saying.”

In the coming years, Miller will be able to be assessed by the England team’s performances as Graveney may now be. His final record reads played 133, won 52, drawn 36, lost 45.

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