Colin Graves expects England to beat 'mediocre' West Indies

Colin Graves
Colin Graves succeeds Giles Clarke as ECB chairman and will serve a five-year term

There will be "some enquiries" if England do not beat a "mediocre" West Indies in their upcoming Test series, says incoming England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves.

The three-Test series in the Caribbean begins on 13 April in Antigua.

Graves starts his new role on 15 May.

"I'd certainly be disappointed if we don't win the West Indies series, because I am pretty sure the West Indies are going to have a mediocre team," Graves told BBC Radio Leeds.

"A lot of their stars are going to be playing in the Indian Premier League anyway, not in the Tests, so we should win that series.

England's Caribbean schedule
6-7 April: Tour match v St Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre21-25 April: 2nd Test v West Indies, Grenada
8-9 April: Tour match v St Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre1-5 May: 3rd Test v West Indies, Barbados
13-17 April: 1st Test v West Indies, Antigua

"If we don't win, I can tell you now there will be some enquiries of why we haven't."

West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle has already ruled himself out of the series, and will instead play for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.

England have not played a Test since beating India 3-1 last summer, while the one-day side had a dismal World Cup, being eliminated at the group stage.

Graves, 67, has already caused a stir before taking up his new role by speaking to discarded batsman Kevin Pietersen after suggesting the 34-year-old could play for England again if he scored heavily in first-class cricket.

Andrew Strauss
England, captained by Andrew Strauss, lost 1-0 on their last visit to the West Indies in 2009

The outgoing Yorkshire chairman is to start a wide-ranging review of English cricket at international, county and club level.

In the BBC Radio Leeds interview, Graves also gave his support to England Test captain Alastair Cook and spoke about a potential franchise-based Twenty20 competition, this summer's Ashes series and changes to grass-roots cricket.

'Every confidence' in captain Cook

England's visit to to the Caribbean sees Alastair Cook return as captain of the Test team, after he was dropped from the one-day international side and replaced as skipper by Eoin Morgan.

Cook was dismissed for three and five playing for MCC against county champions Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi, but Graves backed the 30-year-old in Test cricket.

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook scored just three and five for MCC against county champions Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi

"I want to see Alastair as a big part of that set-up," Graves said. "He is a proven Test player, he is a quality player, I have every confidence in Alastair Cook.

"We have to make sure we protect him, look after him properly and let him concentrate on playing cricket."

Ashes series a 'massive challenge'

After the West Indies tour, World Cup finalists New Zealand visit England for a two-Test series starting in May, followed by five ODIs and a Twenty20 international.

Australia then fly in to defend the Ashes, which begins in Cardiff on 8 July.

"New Zealand will be a big challenge. They are a good team, they will have some people coming back from the IPL so that might help us, but I'd like to win the New Zealand series," said Graves.

"If we draw 1-1, it's acceptable, but if we end up losing it, again it would be very disappointing.

"The Ashes will be a massive challenge, Australia are on a high with some fantastic players coming through. That is going to be a massive, tough series and it ain't going to be easy."

Oz-style franchises?

Perth Scorchers
The Big Bash, won by Perth Scorchers in 2015, has generated excitement and interest in Australia

Australia's Big Bash T20 competition is played by franchises rather than the traditional state system. Its success has led to calls for a similar set-up in England, something Graves is willing to look at as part of his review of English cricket

He said: "We've got to look at the economics and viability of it. We've got to go into that in a real in-depth study to make sure that is the right thing.

"We are starting with a blank sheet of paper, but the main thing is to look at the scheduling."

Lack of women's teams is 'pathetic'

An ECB survey published last year showed that the number of people playing cricket at grassroots level fell from 908,000 in 2013 to 844,000 in 2014 - a drop of 7%.

Graves, a former club cricketer himself for Dunnington CC in the Yorkshire and District Premier League, has pledged to reverse that trend and also increase numbers in the women's game.

He said: "I've seen over recent years that the younger generation get to 15, 16 or 17 and then other things take over their lives quickly.

"There's computers, iPads and the rest of it. Getting them to play a long game of cricket from 2pm until 8pm on a Saturday, we have got to look at all that.

England womens Ashes-winning side in 2014
The England women's team retained the Ashes in 2014, but Graves wants more women to play the game

"How can we resurrect those league competitions? We have got to do more of different competitions. Whether we play a 10-over competition on a Sunday, we've got to look at everything. I think that's how we have to get people back involved.

"We've certainly got to get ladies and women involved. I'm sad to say it but even in Yorkshire we have only got 27 women's teams, which is pathetic. We have something like 750 clubs in Yorkshire - it is not good enough.

"I think we can change it very quickly, I'd like to see the cricket club at the centre of the community and use them to do so much more than just cricket."

Shaking up the ECB

Having been on the ECB board since 2010 and deputy chairman since 2013, Graves says he and new chief executive Tom Harrison are keen to make changes quickly.

"I think we've been seen as a governing body who might have been a bit aloof or a bit away from the coal face. I want to get back to the coal face, and our new chief exec is of the same opinion. That's top of the list," said Graves.

"We want to be open, transparent and we want to work with the counties and everybody else, all the stakeholders, to make sure that we are doing the right thing.

"There is no big stick, we are not there to push people into doing things. We want to talk about it, put things on the table. If things get kicked into the long grass, at least they've been talked about. It's no closed shop."

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