Colin Graves: The 'fiery' millionaire set to run English cricket

By Alan JewellBBC Sport
Colin Graves, incoming ECB chairman
Colin Graves set up the Costcutter convenience store chain in 1984

He does not start the job for another two months but incoming England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves is already making major waves with the national team.

Graves, a self-made millionaire and current chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, has spoken to discarded batsman Kevin Pietersen about a potential return to the England side.

Current national selector James Whitaker has said Pietersen, sacked in February 2014 following the 5-0 Ashes whitewash by Australia, is "not part" of the team's plans, while Test captain Alastair Cook believes a return for the 34-year-old is "highly unlikely".

However, that has not stopped Graves, 67, from publicly suggesting the South African-born batsman, who scored 8,181 runs in 104 Tests, could play for England again if he scored heavily at first-class level.

BBC Sport profiles the man causing a stir in English cricket, described as a "fiery character who doesn't suffer fools".

Who is Colin Graves?

A lifelong cricket fan, Graves was raised on a farm near Thorne in south Yorkshire, attending Goole Grammar School, before beginning a career in retail.

He joined Spar when still a teenager in 1968,external-link working his way up the ranks to become sales director by the time he was 37, before leaving the business to set up the Costcutter convenience chain in 1984.

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Graves, who now lives in Four Elms in Kent, oversaw its growth into a national business with 1,600 stores and sales of £640m. He was listed in the Sunday Times Rich List as having a fortune of about £90m.

He sold a 49% stake in Costcutter to the Bibby Line Group in 2007 and the remaining 51% in November 2011. He left the company within six months after falling out with the new owners and refusing to accept a role as non-executive chairman.

When he left Costcutter, Graves said: "I am not cut out to be just a figurehead"external-link and claimed being a non-executive chairman would have been "like putting a straightjacket on me".

'A robust character who can fight his corner'

Ronan Hegarty, news editor of The Grocer magazine, describes Graves as "almost the cliche of the no-nonsense Yorkshireman" and has not been surprised by his keenness to be hands-on at the ECB.

"He's a fairly fiery character and doesn't suffer fools. He is an entrepreneurial, sharp businessman and has been very successful," Hegarty told BBC Sport.

Players look scared - new ECB boss Graves

"There is very little that gets past him. He's an extremely savvy operator, a tough negotiator, a robust character who can fight his corner.

"He will be his own man. There are lots of different personalities in cricket - he will have his say and won't want to be swayed by others."

Chris Waters, the Yorkshire CCC correspondent at the Yorkshire Post, believes Graves is the right man for the job and will take whatever action is required.

Waters wrote last week that Graves "did not make his brass by avoiding tough decisions and shying away from ruffling feathers".

He added: "Graves does not just call a spade 'a spade' - he calls it a bloody spade."

Yorkshire CCC saviour

Graves has played club cricket for Dunnington CC in the Yorkshire and District Premier League for about 30 years and has always been passionate about the fortunes of the county cricket club.

He took control of Yorkshire in 2002 as part of the 'gang of four' who saved the club from financial ruin. After leaving Costcutter, he strengthened his involvement at the county by becoming executive chairman in May 2012.

Yorkshire win 2014 county championship
Yorkshire won the 2014 County Championship, three years after being relegated to Division Two

He has injected about £10m of his own money into Yorkshire and was a key figure in the purchase of their Headingley ground in 2006.

When they were relegated in 2011, Graves described the players' performances as "a disgrace". He reacted by overhauling the coaching structure and appointing former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie as head coach.

They were immediately promoted back to Division One in 2012, finished runners-up in 2013 and then clinched their 31st County Championship last year.

Graves joined the ECB board in 2010, going on to become deputy chairman in 2013 before he was elected the new chairman, succeeding Giles Clarke, in February.

He takes up the position in mid-May, when he will leave Yorkshire and serve a five-year term, which will include England's hosting of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

What are his priorities?

Graves has stated he wants to oversee a radical review of all areas of English cricket. Nothing is off the agenda.

England cricket coach Peter Moores
Peter Moores was appointed England coach for a second time in April 2014. His side were knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post in January, he said: "I would want a top-to-bottom review of cricket - from England Test match cricket right down to recreational cricket."

He identified falling Test match ticket sales, the domestic structure - including a potential Twenty20 English Premier League - and reduced participation in the recreational game as priorities.

But Graves has already demonstrated that the England team, dismally knocked out of the World Cup, is top of his agenda.

He has also appointed a new five-strong executive team at Lord's and plans to produce a strategy document to present to the counties later this year.

Developments at the ECB over the next few years should make for interesting viewing.