Court case disrupts Test plans

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The Independent Online

Imran Khan's High Court case against Allan Lamb and Ian Botham last night disrupted England's plans for the first Test by ruling Michael Atherton, the captain, and David Lloyd, the coach, out of final preparations.

The pair were subpoenaed to appear at the High Court yesterday but both failed to reach the witness stand. But they have been called back for today by Imran's counsel, Sir George Carmen QC, when England complete their net sessions for the first Test and are likely to be absent, despite having practice put back to mid-morning because the team have a breakfast appointment with the Prime Minister.

Because Atherton will be the first witness, he is not expected to miss the start of the Test, but the pair's absence today is a further blow to England's plans, which have been disrupted by injuries to Nasser Hussain and Chris Lewis, making them both doubtful to face Pakistan.

Test and County Board lawyers made representations some time ago to Imran's legal team, requesting they avoided a clash with the Test. But the complexity of the case has drawn it out and delayed the appearances of Lloyd and Atherton, who has been called after bringing up the subject of ball-tampering in his recent book.

"There is a real chance we may miss the nets tomorrow from what happened today," Lloyd said. Alan Knott and Peter Lever are likely to take charge of today's session and their first task will be to rule on the fitness of Hussain and Lewis. Hussain has not played since injuring his finger in the final Test against India and said yesterday: "If the Test was tomorrow I would be struggling."

Lewis is doubtful after colliding with Paul Jarvis during Surrey's Championship match with Sussex at Guildford earlier this week and straining his thigh. But it did not prevent him from testing out a new radar system which will measure the speed of each ball. "The Sword Sniper", which will be tested for the first time at Lord's and again at the final Test at Headingley, measures the speed of the delivery and flashes up the time on a screen at ground level.

Pakistan's injury worries have eased with Waqar Younis coming through a test on his injured hamstring and the opener Saeed Anwar being given the all-clear by a specialist after fears of a recurrence of the typhoid- type complaint which sidelined him for most of last season.