Cricket / First Test: Illingworth tempting fate

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The Independent Online
THE new chairman will find out today whether a higher authority takes things personally. With England praying the weather holds long enough to wrap up victory at Trent Bridge, Ray Illingworth has banned The Rev Andrew Wingfield-Digby, the team chaplain, from the dressing-room.

Wingfield-Digby, an affable, inoffensive minor counties cricketer, was appointed the team's 'spiritual adviser' by Illingworth's predecessor, Ted Dexter. Although one of his main confidantes, Phil Tufnell, is hardly a showcase client, he has helped several players through periods of low confidence.

However Illingworth said: 'I don't want players who need a shoulder to cry on. I don't think players need that kind of help. I want players strong enough to go out and stuff the Aussies.'

Illingworth's move is part of a general tightening up of the dressing-room area with 'distractions' such as mobile phones and agents also being banned.

Sunglasses, though not banned, appear to be kept in the shade as well. After four years in which the team have increasingly looked as if they belong to the cast of Baywatch they have barely been sighted this match.

Like helmets, which also make the players anonymous to spectators, there are sound health reasons for wearing sunglasses. Of course there are sound financial reasons, too, for the players sponsored by manufacturers - Robin Smith has a pair named after him.

Not that one should blame the players for wishing to cash in considering the lead they are given. Admission today will be pounds 4, not a lot compared with the full price ( pounds 11-25) but a fair whack for what might only be three balls' play.

As for the weather, Keith Fletcher, the England coach, admitted: 'We may regret batting on, but if it rains all day it will be bad luck.'

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