Cricket: Derbyshire's coach exiled

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 200 and 229-3 dec Warwickshire 340 Match drawn

While Derbyshire batted their way to a draw here yesterday, the county's crisis off the field took another turn when it emerged that the club's coach, Les Stillman, had effectively been suspended from first-team duties following the resignation of Dean Jones.

Stillman, who helped his fellow Australian Jones to steer Derbyshire to second place in last year's Britannic Assurance table, was told not to attend the final day of the Championship match at Edgbaston. He also missed Sunday's AXA Life League game on the same ground, when Derbyshire were bowled out for 93.

The county hierarchy are being secretive over the circumstances surrounding last week's abrupt departure of Jones, who accused senior players of lack of support for his leadership. They have instructed players and staff to make no comment. But Stillman, the former Victoria coach who was appointed alongside his compatriot last April, confirmed he had been told to stay away.

"The chairman and the cricket committee said it would be better in the circumstances that exist if I was not around," he said. "Never in my 27 years as a coach have I not been with my team during a game, nor have I been told not to talk to the press.

"We discussed before this all blew up the idea that I would spend some time with the second eleven and watch some minor counties games with a view to maybe strengthening the staff and I saw some value in that. You might say I've taken up those duties a week or two early."

Neither the club chairman, Mike Horton, nor the cricket committee chairman, Ian Buxton, could be contacted yesterday. The club secretary, Stewart Edwards, said he could not comment but that a statement "might be issued tomorrow."

It is understood that players and senior officials will meet today in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis. Stillman's close association with Jones is certain to have placed him in a difficult position, although he says he will honour his contract, which has the remainder of this season to run. Derbyshire have a potential replacement already on the staff in Andy Hayhurst.

"If a period is needed for the dust to settle, that's fine," Stillman said. "But it is my wish to go on working with the players."

Under the captaincy of Philip DeFreitas, Derbyshire defied Warwickshire's bid for a fourth batting point by taking their last three wickets for 19 runs after the home side had resumed at 321 for 7 in a match hit by the weather.

A five-wicket return for Devon Malcolm increased the England strike bowler's first-class tally to 41. Half-centuries by Kim Barnett and Adrian Rollins averted the threat of an innings defeat before Tim Tweats and Chris Adams steered their side to safety.

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