Cricket: Embattled Lancashire disband the old guard

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LANCASHIRE responded to a sad season yesterday by confirming that cricket manager Alan Ormrod, together with former England players Graeme Fowler and Paul Allott, had been sacked, writes Derek Hodgson.

The chairman Bob Bennett commented: 'I share the disappointment of members and supporters at the results so far. Positive steps were needed.' David Hughes, the assistant manager, is in charge of team affairs but only until the end of this season. A further announcement on the coaching/management structure will be made in the autumn.

The committee stress that it is giving Fowler and Allott, both 35, time to find a new county if they wish to continue playing. It was rumoured strongly that both would be leaving last year so yesterday's announcement was not unexpected.

Fowler and Allott were called to Old Trafford yesterday morning to be given the news, Fowler commenting: 'It was no surprise because I knew I was going but it was a shock to hear about Alan. He is the best cricket manager I've played for.'

Ormrod, 49, Lancashire-born but a Worcestershire opener for many years, has to take the blame for Lancashire's 16th place when he can be only partly responsible for what has happened.

Lancashire have had a poor summer because they have been without Wasim Akram, because his replacement as overseas professional, Danny Morrison of New Zealand, still ranked 16th among world Test bowlers, has shown neither the expected form nor fitness, and because Phillip DeFreitas has either been required by England or been unfit.

If Ormrod recommended Morrison his judgement was backed by other influential voices. It was the committee that first created an awkward situation last year when it appointed Hughes, the most successful captain of recent years, assistant manager in charge of the first team.

Without a strike bowler on the new, hard square at Old Trafford Lancashire have had to rely on the fledgling Peter Martin and evolving spinners. Conversely, they have also seen a flowering of young batsmen, including Nick Speak, Graham Lloyd and John Crawley, with Jason Gallian to come in 1994, for which Ormrod should be given some credit.

Fowler has already been linked with Derbyshire and Yorkshire; both he and Allott attended Durham University, which could suggest another destination.

Lancashire also confirmed yesterday that Neil Fairbrother would continue as captain next season and that two Championship matches would be played on outgrounds per season, two at Liverpool and Lytham next year and at Blackpool and Southport in 1994.