Cricket Diary: The benefits of a sporting declaration

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The Independent Online
MORE than pounds 2m was raised last summer for players' benefits. It is difficult to reveal a precise figure - though it is easily more than the combined prize money for which the counties compete - because four beneficiaries have yet to declare figures.

The quartet still counting four months after severing connections with a world dominated by autographed bats, rubber chicken and begging bowls are Devon Malcolm, Angus Fraser, Andy Moles and Alan Lilley. They can be expected to add substantially to the pounds 1.5m accrued by the other nine.

It is not obligatory for players to announce by how much their bank balances have improved in one fell, if extremely hard- working, swoop but most counties encourage them to do so given that the watching, or at least supporting, public are providing most of the income. The 1997 league table of those who have disclosed tells us several things. It is easier to raise money in some counties than others, it helps if you are England captain, it helps if your dad was England captain, it is hardly a hindrance if your side win trophies.

The list is: Michael Atherton, Lancashire pounds 307,000; Graham Cowdrey, Kent pounds 303,000; Richard Illingworth, Worcestershire pounds 271,275; Martin Bicknell, Surrey pounds 151,000; Cardigan Connor, Hampshire pounds 131,414; Colin Metson, Glamorgan pounds 131,253; David Ripley, Northamptonshire pounds 120,000; Graham Rose, Somerset pounds 91,500; Russell Cobb/Phil Whitticase, Leicestershire pounds 64,000.

No problems there, though Rose might have been a trifle ill-rewarded considering he topped the club's batting and bowling averages and was their player of the year by the length of the Tone.

Malcolm's agent Nanesh Desai said an announcement was expected in a month but confirmed that he had easily beaten the previous Derbyshire record. "There are good reasons for declaring, of course, but by declaring it might affect the prospects of players who follow," said Desai. Middlesex, Warwickshire and Essex hope that their trio will go public soon though in the case of the latter duo the 1996 beneficiaries, Dermot Reeve and Paul Prichard, have yet to break their accounting silence.

PERHAPS the selectors might take a closer look at Alec Stewart's record as joint captain and wicketkeeper before concluding that he should do both jobs for England. They will know that on the one previous occasion he did so for his country the team lost (to Sri Lanka for the first time) while he scored 63 and three. They may not know (and, admittedly, they may not set too much store by the fact) that in his five years as Surrey captain he combined the duties in 16 matches. He batted more often than not at No 4. In 24 innings he scored one century and his average was 34.86, some six runs fewer than his career figure. Perhaps more pertinently, the side won only three of those matches and lost six. But who else to don the gloves now?

SUSSEX can now never win the Benson and Hedges Cup. The other two counties never to have done so are Glamorgan and Durham but the latter at least ensured they still have a chance by winning their opening three matches. It meant that they qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time at the seventh time of asking.

To confirm their place they beat Worcestershire, against whom they enjoyed their first B&H group victory back in 1992. The make-up of the teams from these occasions so far apart on the sporting calendar may say something about both clubs.

Not a single player from the Durham of 1992 was in their side on Thursday (Simon Brown was injured) while the vanquished Worcestershire fielded no fewer than eight of those who had been similarly unsuccessful then. They have grown old together.

BOOK MARK

"He was the chosen General of all the matches, ordering and directing the whole. In such esteem did the brotherhood hold his experience and judgement, that he was uniformly consulted on all questions of law or precedent; and I never knew an exception to be taken against his opinion, or his decision to be reversed... He was a good face-to-face, unflinching, uncompromising, independent man. He placed a full and just value upon the station he held in society and he maintained it without insolence or assumption. He could differ with a superior without trenching upon his dignity or losing his own."

How Alec Stewart might wish those words were written about him. And one day they might be. In this instance, however, they appeared in The Young Cricketers' Tutor, by John Nyren, published in 1830, and referred to his legendary father from Hambledon and the man whose name, sacrilegiously, appeared incorrectly here last week, Richard Nyren.

Silly Point

THE five wickets taken by Will House in his astonishing performance at Bristol on Thursday, as Combined Universities beat Gloucestershire by seven runs, were his first in one-day cricket. He had been an afterthought until then and though he has two first-class wickets they have cost 349 runs each. Spare a thought for Jack Russell, who was left stranded on 119. Russell (right) has yet to finish on the winning side when scoring a maiden century in any form of cricket: Sunday League, 108 in 1986, Gloucestershire lost by three runs; Tests, 128no in 1989, England lost by nine wickets; Championship, 120 in 1990, draw. And now this. Apparently, when the Universities captain, Anurag Singh, took his gamble, he said he would put his house on it.

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