Botham braced for defeat

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The Independent Online

Ian Botham has prepared himself for disappointment in the race to become an England selector. The former all-rounder has attracted some support in his bid to join Ray Illingworth's panel, but the indications last night were that he will not win enough votes to finish either first or second of the eight candidates.

The result will be announced at Lord's today, but Botham said yesterday: "I'm a betting man, and to be honest, I wouldn't lay too much on my chances." And, anticipating a disappointing result, he added: "I'll be back next year and the next and the one after that if necessary."

David Graveney, standing for re-election after one year on the selection committee, is favourite to finish top of the poll when votes cast by the 18 first-class counties plus MCC and Minor Counties are counted this morning.

Illingworth is unlikely to be too pleased if that prediction proves accurate. Graveney was set to stand against Illingworth as chairman just a few weeks ago until the ers' Association - for whom he is chief executive - told him to withdraw, citing a clash of interests.

There may be better news for Illingworth when the name of the second successful candidate is announced as Brian Bolus or John Edrich, both of whom have the backing of the chairman, are thought to be well in the running for election.

Graham Gooch, Chris Cowdrey, Kim Barnett and Geoff Miller are the other candidates.

The openers Stewart Hutton and Michael Roseberry rewrote the Durham record books in a run riot at The Parks yesterday.

Hutton and Roseberry established a record partnership for the county of 334, batting through the first day's play against Oxford University at The Parks. Left-hander Hutton's 172 not out was a career best, while his captain, Roseberry, finished on 145, his first century for Durham.

Martin Speight, of Sussex, has declared himself fully fit for the new season after missing the whole of last summer with post-viral fatigue syndrome.

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