Cricket: Counties cleared of collusion at final match

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DERBYSHIRE AND Hampshire have been cleared of collusion in their last match of the season, but the England and Wales Cricket Board yesterday announced that it may use match referees to watch out for possible foul play in future important County Championship games.

Warwickshire will play in the Second Division of the championship next season after the ECB decided to take no action over the alleged collusion between Derbyshire and Hampshire. In last week's match Derbyshire were set a target of 285 to win in four sessions and Hampshire's victory by two runs meant both teams will be in the top flight next season.

Warwickshire were angry about the events at Derby, but the ECB insisted no wrong-doing occurred. "After examining the match data and questioning both umpires and both captains at length, the ECB Cricket Department has concluded that the game of cricket was not `brought into disrepute'," an ECB spokesman said. "The ECB is keen to emphasise that the reputations of the captains should remain untarnished by the events of the match."

The spokesman added: "The Board will, however, be giving consideration to the appointment of match referees for key matches in the final round and to other suggested measures to help prevent the integrity of the competition being called into question."

Dominic Cork has had his contract as Derbyshire's captain extended until at least 2001. Four players have been released: Steve Griffiths, Mark Newell, Michael Deane and Anthony Woolley.

Steve Waugh is to ignore medical advice and captain Australia in the second Test against Sri Lanka, which begins today in Galle, wearing a helmet when in the field. Waugh broke his nose in a collision with Jason Gillespie - the fast bowler was left with a broken leg - during the first Test and had not been expected to play.