ENGLAND team director Andrew Strauss has played down the concerns of Sir Ian Botham regarding a potential conflict of interests for national selectors.

Former England all-rounder Botham, now chairman of Durham, has voiced his frustration following his county's loss of all-rounder Paul Coughlin to Nottinghamshire.

Coughlin, a 24-year-old Durham academy graduate, has agreed a three-year deal at Trent Bridge, where the director of cricket Mick Newell is also an England selector.

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Durham, who are hampered by financial difficulties and are languishing in the County Championship Second Division after being hit with a points penalty, have found difficulty repelling interest in their players from rivals.

Among a number of issues raised, Botham urged the England and Wales Cricket Board "to remove the potential for conflict of interest by preventing serving directors of cricket acting as selectors".

Responding to those remarks, Strauss has backed the integrity of Newell and fellow selector Angus Fraser, the Middlesex director of cricket.

Strauss, like Botham a former England captain, said: "He is 100 per cent wrong if he is implying he (Coughlin) has gone there on the back of one of our selectors saying he has got a better chance of playing cricket for England coming to my county.

"I can understand why there is that perception. All I can do is support the guys who are currently in position. I know what goes on in selection meetings and I know that they are exceptionally conscious of when they might be compromised and they will ensure they will not have an input in those matters or those decisions when it may be seen that they have a conflict of interest.

"They are two outstanding individuals and, although there might be a perception of conflict of interest, I just don't believe that to be the case."

On the subject of players moving counties, Strauss added: "I don't think the fact an England selector might be a director of cricket influences their decision."

Botham also called for the formal introduction of transfer fees and for greater regulation of player agents.

As well as that, he also feels counties are not sufficiently rewarded for producing home-grown players.

Strauss says this matter will be discussed with counties.

Strauss said: "I think it is probably worth saying that counties do get money for developing England players currently but we are just starting conversations about what a new county partnership agreement looks like.

"We are going to be looking at all this in the round – how does this work currently and does this incentivise what we want?

"I want counties to develop their own players. I think it is the right way to do it, it is the cheaper way to do things long term.

"It is really important people focus the time, effort and resource into their academies to ensure they are supporting players properly. I think there are a lot of incidences of that happening really well and probably a few where it could be better.

"We need to challenge the counties on that and make sure people are rewarded for producing England players at all levels. That is ultimately one of the jobs of county cricket."

Botham had released a statement on the county website and has repeated his call for compensation on Sky Sports News, saying: "I think it's the only way we can exist.

"We have an academy and we produce so many players for England, more than probably any other side since '93 when we came into first-class cricket, and it's sad we are taking two steps forward and three back. I'm not quite sure how (the ECB) expect us to do that. They need to wake up to what's going on."