Giles Clarke could face a serious challenge in his bid for re-election as chairman of the ECB, when Lord Marland of Odstock, a former treasurer of the Conservative party, is unveiled as one of three candidates for the post ahead of Monday's noon deadline for nominations.
Marland, 52, is understood to have been assured of seven of the 19 votes in the ballot, with 10 required for a clear majority. Lancashire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire have pledged their support, along with Surrey, Warwickshire, Hampshire and MCC, of which he is a member. According to The Guardian, Clarke, who saw off Surrey's Mike Soper in last year's ballot, has nine counties on his side, which means the result could hinge on the decisions of three wavering votes - Yorkshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.
A millionaire financier who was made a life peer in 2006, Marland has said he will stand because he has become frustrated at Clarke's governance, and cited the Stanford Series as evidence that the ECB had lost its way. "I believe it is vital for English cricket in its current situation to have a contest for the chairmanship of the ECB," said Marland. "There are deep schisms within the game which need to be healed, and I believe I can be a unifying candidate.
"The image of our game has been very badly damaged during Giles Clarke's time at the helm and the Stanford and Moores/Pietersen affairs of recent months have highlighted both errors of judgement and management failures. An uncontested election would imply endorsement of these errors and failures, and that would be wrong.
"There has been non-stop fire-fighting in the ECB," said Marland. "They've had firefighting after their failure to get on with India, Australia and South Africa in the IPL, the disastrous Stanford cricket match and their failure to deliver the Middle East tournament as an alternative to the IPL. There needs to be much more harmony in Test match cricket and in cricket in this country. There is clearly a big divide among the counties as to how it is run and things are not harmonious - my approach would be more conciliatory."
Marland was also critical of the ECB's handling of the recent leadership crisis, telling BBC Radio Five Live that Kevin Pietersen had been badly treated by his employers. "I thought Pietersen showed great leadership taking the team out to India," said Marland. "I thought that was a brave thing to do and a good thing to do and I don't think he was treated very well when he returned.
"There was then a continual barrage from various camps in the press about his role and that of Moores and I think it's terribly unseemly. I don't believe in this airing of one's laundry in the press. Any well-run operation sorts itself behind closed doors and that is what the ECB needs to do."
Marland held the post of Tory party treasurer from 2003 to 2007, and was a key figure in the successful candidature of Boris Johnson in last year's London mayoral elections. His sporting credentials are enhanced by his involvement with the independent body, Sports Nexus, which specialises in the structure, governance and accountability of sports.
In 2004, pre-empting the controversial Bradshaw-Stewart plan that was squashed by the ECB Board last summer, he co-authored a report which proposed an IPL-style domestic competition, among whose critics was the then-Somerset chairman, Clarke. In 2007, he came close to becoming the first independent chairman of the Football Association, and in 2008, he was appointed president of Salisbury FC.
Marland's nomination comes on the day the ECB are holding a conference at Leicester to discuss the future of Test cricket. That meeting now promises to be a de facto election campaign, with Neil Davidson, the Leicestershire chairman, outspoken in his desire for change. "It is not healthy for the ECB to be chaired by someone who is basically unacceptable to a significant number of chairmen and their clubs," he told The Guardian.