English boards and committees used to be reassuringly anonymous. You could tell a good committee man when you saw one: understated dress-sense, diplomatic tone, good at avoiding the real subject, even better at sitting on his hands and looking the other way. In English cricket, every decision emanated quietly from "Lord's", a consensus view with which no one particularly agreed but no one violently disagreed.
What on earth happened? These days it's all egos and open warfare. There have been two nasty elections for the English Cricket Board chairmanship, both spats spilling out with ungentlemanly vigour into the wider media. Worse still, we entered into a partnership with the Texan vulgarian Sir Allen Stanford, a financier with a nasty moustache and a penchant for branded helicopters, who flew into Lord's carrying a Perspex chest containing $20 million. Not so much barbarians at the gates, then, as barbarians invited into the citadel.
As a result, the ECB now gets more newspaper column inches than Paris Hilton, and our chairman Giles Clarke generates almost as many headlines as the England team. After 200 years of invisible stewardship of the game, English cricket's top brass has suddenly raised its head above the parapet. It is not a pretty sight. The central figure here is Clarke. "Sherman McCoy, eat your heart out" - that was Mike Atherton's verdict when he met the newly-elected ECB chairman in 2007. "I'm not short of confidence," the multi-millionaire entrepreneur breezily informed Atherton.