Cricket: Giddins 'hopeful' as drug ban is upheld

Ed Giddins, the Sussex and England A bowler banned for 19 months when traces of cocaine were found during a random drugs test last season, had his appeal quashed at Lord's yesterday. In probably their last meeting before next year's assimilation into the new England Cricket Board, the four-man Cricket Council, chaired by Judge Desmond Perrett QC, upheld the original decision made by the Test and County Cricket Board in August.

As no fresh evidence was offered - merely an appeal that the sentence was too severe - the decision came as little surprise. With a recent children's poll placing sportsmen and clergy not far behind parents in the list of who they look to for morality, even the presence of Michael Lawrence, the solicitor who managed to overturn the pounds 2,000 fine levied on Ray Illingworth, failed to make any headway.

"It was an extremely fair meeting," Lawrence said. "Ed couldn't have wished for a better tribunal. It's a disappointing result but he'll just have to take it on the chin. In the long run though, I think his talent will prevail."

The meeting, which lasted just over two and a half hours, was obviously draining and upon its conclusion, Giddins was immediately driven away by his agent, Gareth James, returning an hour later to face questions from the press.

"I'm very upset. Even angry. Which is unusual for me," said Giddins, normally an unusually cheery cove for a fast bowler, albeit one with an alternative slant that did not always sit comfortably with the old pros in the Sussex dressing-room. When asked what he was going to do now, he quipped: "Go to the pub."

The decision leaves the 25-year-old Giddins, unceremoniously dumped by Sussex, without any obvious means of support. "Cricket has been my life for a long time now," he said. "I'm not going to leave it. The reason I appealed is because I wanted to be playing first-class cricket next season. That, and all the supportive letters I've had from the public."

Responding to rumours that 10 counties were interested in signing him Giddins added: "There have been some good talks recently and I hope to be able to sign a contract next week." That may be wishful thinking now that his ban remains in place until April 1998.

His plans for the short term revolve around opening a shop in Parson's Green, selling Christmas trees in partnership with Surrey's Nadeem Shahid. Perhaps that, more than the ban, will make him realise the folly of his ways.

Tufnell's new leaf, page 25

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