Almanack: Policy statement

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The Independent Online
FIFTY thousand pounds is on offer to any batsman scoring a double century, or any bowler taking 10 wickets in a match, during the forthcoming England v West Indies Test series. The company behind the stunt, the insurance dealers SEC, tried a similar ploy with the Ashes series when, their spokesperson says, 'unfortunately, none of the players achieved the targets set'.

Max Rosen, SEC's managing director, claims that 'both captains, Mike Atherton and Richie Richardson, are over the moon with the extra sponsorship', but if that is true they should be ashamed of themselves. This isn't useful sponsorship of the kind provided by Whittingdale for training schemes. It is a bet. And without seeming too Colonel Blimpish, any player should be 'over the moon' to score a double century or take 10 wickets for his country without the added stimulus of a wheelbarrow full of currency.

Not that winning the cash will be easy. Almanack checks with our man Derek Pringle: 'Double centuries don't happen too often in the West Indies,' he says. Ten wickets will be easier, then? 'Not necessarily. For a start, the West Indies have too many good bowlers - they share the wickets out.' In fact, the batting target has not been achieved in England v West Indies fixtures in the Caribbean in the past 20 years, the bowling target just twice in the same period. None the less, SEC deals in insurance policies: have they insured themselves against paying out pounds 100,000? They have.