Carr prepared for Board games

Cricket Diary
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The Independent Online
This time, John Carr will stay retired. He is still far too young to be going, of course. At 33, he is hardly beyond his batting prime, his catching hands remain prehensile, he enthuses about the game and he is giving up a potentially lucrative benefit.

His departure is also a pity for another reason: the game will lose a singular, unorthodox and utterly bizarre batting stance. But there will be no second comeback.

"There were a lot of things to weigh up," he said. "I still enjoy my cricket, I'm still part of the Middlesex side. But I have done most things I wanted to and I rather think England had passed me by. But it is a very good job that I am starting and for someone who is as keen on all sport as I am and wanted to stay involved it probably couldn't be better."

The job in question is with the Test and County Cricket Board. Carr will fill the role vacated by Tim Lamb, the new chief executive. It has some fancy title with at least three words in it but fundamentally Carr will be responsible for cricket administration, sorting out fixtures, organising one-day competitions.

The last time he retired was at the end of the 1990 season. He went to work for Barclays Bank - "a mistake, not their fault at all, we all thanked each other very much, but a mistake," he said. It lasted a year before he returned.

He had gone because his runs had dried up and he was consigned to the second team. It was while there, however, that he changed his batting style, so that his feet faced the bowler and his bat came from the direction of gulley. The method had two crucial factors. The bat, by the time it was down, was straight. And it worked.

It was never more effective than in the final weeks of the 1994 season. From 6 August, the day his second daughter was born and he made an unbeaten 78, to 8 September and his 261 not out, he scored 854 runs and was dismissed only once in seven innings. He finished top of the national averages, 0.94 runs per completed innings better than Brian Lara.

There are those who will say that 33 is the right age for retirement and that it opens the way for younger blood to progress. It certainly disproves any theory that all professional cricketers over 30 are hanging round for a benefit season. Carr would have been due one shortly and could have expected to pocket in excess of pounds 150,000.

He follows his father into cricket administration. Donald Carr CBE was Derbyshire captain and played twice for England before becoming, successively, county secretary, assistant secretary of the MCC and secretary of the TCCB. John is neither so foolish as to think such connections were a hindrance nor so weak as to think they were why he got the job.

"I have played university cricket, club cricket, minor counties cricket, county cricket and I have coached in state schools and public schools and many other places, all types of players," he said by way of illustrating his credentials. Last winter he worked for Middlesex after several years of asking them.

He was guarded about what the game should do to ensure a rosy future (though he warmed to the idea of wider television coverage for county cricket) but also guardedly optimistic. Carr has been a good county cricketer in a good side, he has a degree in philosophy, politics and economics. If the game needs caring, bright, young players it needs similar administrators. And with that stance, as he said, it is probably wise that he has chosen not to move into coaching.

AS IF Yorkshire did not have enough difficulties with the Headingley Test match, there were then the missing tickets. A sackful were lost, courtesy of the postal strike. Duplicates had to be sent out and then the originals turned up. "Yes, well we could have done without it," the secretary, David Ryder, said. "But you have to trust people when they ring up and say their tickets haven't arrived. I don't think it caused too many problems."

Not as many, anyway, as the stand called Notorious Western Terrace (Notorious presumably having been some long forgotten Yorkshire all-rounder after whom that section has been named). Ryder thought press comment was exaggerated. "Did you see any running battles?"

He has a point but what of the highly critical comments on behaviour from Sir Laurence Byford, Yorkshire president and former top cop? "Well, he san say that but it was perhaps a wee bit silly," Ryder said.

IT is possible that if Stuart Law does not return from international duty to represent Essex and Lancashire continue to do without Steve Elworthy, the NatWest Trophy Final will not be graced with an overseas player.

If so it will be the first time since 1969 when Yorkshire beat Derbyshire. In 1988, Middlesex had no overseas player but Worcestershire had Graeme Hick, then still classed as a foreigner.

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