Bannister resigns over Illingworth

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The Independent Online
The Ray Illingworth book affair claimed its first victim yesterday, although the head on the platter was not the one some of the counties have been so ardently pursuing this season. Jack Bannister, the co-writer of Illingworth's book, has resigned as president of the Cricketers' Association. He has been actively involved in the body since its launch in 1967.

The Association's chairman, the Worcestershire opening batsman Tim Curtis, the vice-chairman, Kent's Matthew Fleming, and treasurer, Alan Fordham of Northamptonshire, issued a joint statement explaining the move yesterday. "The officers of the Professional Cricketers' Association have asked Jack Bannister, their president, to consider his honorary position in light of his role co-writing Ray Illingworth's book and other publications.

"Mr Bannister recognises the PCA's desire not to get drawn into the highly public debate currently being conducted in the media over extracts from Mr Illingworth's book. In the wider interests of the Association and the game of cricket he has therefore offered his resignation."

Although the statement observes the political niceties, many cricketers are known to be unhappy with Illingworth's criticism of players while remaining as chairman of selectors. This move will be interpreted by some as a players' gesture to Illingworth.

The Illingworth book, for which the beleaguered chairman of selectors will have to answer to a full Test and County Cricket Board disciplinary hearing shortly, is just one of three that Bannister is involved with which will all bring controversy this summer. Allan Lamb gave up playing to free himself from the TCCB regulations controlling players' books before writing his autobiography with Bannister, and Bannister has also helped the former umpire Don Oslear with his book. Both are expected to deal extensively with the ball-tampering allegations which so disfigured the last Pakistan tour here. Wasim Akram's side will tour here in the second part of the summer, when the books are due to be published.

Bannister said: "During the Association's last meeting six weeks ago, the question of my involvement in these three books was raised.

"I said that I didn't believe anyone could take exception to the content of them but I suggested that the officers of the Association adopted a wait and see policy.

"Therefore, with Ray Illingworth now due to be in front of a disciplinary hearing, I can understand that the Association would want to distance themselves...if it is the judgement of the Association's officers that the best interests of cricket are served by me stepping down then I will gladly do it."

This has not been the happiest of summers for the Association over its officers putting themselves in unfortunate positions. And by a rich irony, it was Bannister himself, alongside Curtis, who persuaded David Graveney to withdraw when he tried to stand against Illingworth as chairman of selectors. On that occasion, Graveney was able to withdraw, an option Bannister does not have over the books.

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