Cricket: England to play with no third man: TCCB takes a conservative approach to use of video umpires while the West Indies hold the initiative in second Test

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WHEN the Test and County Cricket Board states without equivocation that a touring side are happy with the playing conditions, history suggests the converse. So it proved yesterday, when it announced that, following talks with the Australian management, a third umpire will not be used in either the forthcoming Ashes series or the Texaco Trophy.

'We are at one on this,' Alan Smith, the board's chief executive, said, 'as we are on all other matters.' This may come as news to Bobby Simpson, the Australian team manager, who has spent the past couple of days advocating an extra official on the grounds that 'he takes the pressure off the other two'.

Instead of following the lead set in South Africa last November, there will be an 'experiment', with an additional official in domestic televised games. Although the board reinforced the notion of the on-field umpire as 'sole arbiter', the sticking point was more method than principle.

In South Africa, the third umpire signalled his adjudication on run-outs and stumpings only - by flashing either a red light or a green one. The traffic-light system, however, is frowned upon at Lord's and two-way radios will be used here. 'We are not happy with the lights,' the TCCB spokesman, Ken Lawrence, said, 'because they do not reflect the requirements as we see them.'

While the discussions were in progress, the chairman of the TCCB disciplinary committee, Peter Bromage, clarified the panel's function and mode of practice, while refusing to cite specific examples.

In what was the committee's first meeting with the Press for almost four years, it was clear that the public image of English cricket's ruling body as a small-scale MI5 was not about to be shattered. 'We are a judicial body prevented from talking about individual cases,' Bromage said. 'Any questions of that nature will be played very solidly back down the wicket.'

The dead bat left no one any wiser as to why Surrey were given a suspended sentence last summer for breaching the ball-tampering laws while Allan Lamb was fined merely for passing an opinion on the matter. The concept of accountable government is not expected to be high on the agenda at the next board meeting.

David Gower has his first chance to remind the England selectors of his availability when Hampshire launch their defence of the Benson and Hedges Cup at Southampton today. The holders have a potentially tricky match against Combined Universities - one of five preliminary-round ties in a remodelled competition.