Big selection of selectors

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Cricket: And then there were nine. The queue for the two vacancies on the England selection committee grew to unprecedented proportions, turning the midnight deadline on Wednesday into the "whiching" hour. The former Test players Geoff Miller and Chris Cowdrey were added to the list which now reads: Ian Botham, David Graveney, Fred Titmus, Brian Bolus, John Edrich, Kim Barnett, Graham Gooch, Miller and Cowdrey.

Miller was the choice of Hampshire, and immediately prompted their chief executive, Tony Baker, a member of the Test and County Cricket Board's executive committee, to query the way the election will now be run. Baker said: "It could be an embarrassing election, as I don't think the first- past-the-post system is ideal when there are as many as nine candidates to choose from. But part of the problem is that this situation has not arisen before. I'm not criticising, but it could have been better if there were a two-tier system for reaching the final two selections."

Questions still remain about Botham's media commitments, Gooch and Barnett's playing duties and Graveney's opposition to Illingworth in last month's abortive chairman-of-selectors contest. Lord's yesterday stressed that a circular to counties sent out by the Test and County Cricket Board chief executive, Alan Smith, had been designed merely to give guidance rather than to comment unfavourably on Botham's potential clash of interests with his media work. "Alan was certainly not trying to put the block on anyone," the TCCB spokesman, Richard Little, said.

Lord's stipulated midnight on 17 April as the deadline for the postal ballot, so the counties now have the best part of a fortnight to settle down and consider logically who would be best suited to the selectors' duties. However, the prospect of confusion, and a possible second ballot, looms after the result of the voting is made public on 18 April.

Each of the 18 first-class counties, plus MCC and the Minor Counties, have two votes, which means a total of 40 must be cast. Theoretically, just six votes may be enough to earn someone the job, but it is more likely the second and third places could end in a tie.

In that case, a second ballot between those contenders would be needed, with the candidate who received most votes in the first place being automatically selected. But, given the general confusion which seems to shroud English cricket at present, it is just as likely that more than two candidates could dead-heat at the top of the voting table.