Cricket: Gooch and Graveney blast `abject' England performance

DAVID GRAVENEY, the chairman of the England selectors, said his team's performance in losing to an Australian XI in Hobart yesterday was "unacceptable". Graveney was speaking after England had lost by nine wickets as their opponents scored 376 for the loss of only one wicket on the final day. Greg Blewett, who cannot get into the Australia Test team, scored 213 not out, following his unbeaten 169 in the first innings.

In Hobart, Graham Gooch, the tour manager, spoke of England's "abject" effort in the match, while Graveney, speaking from his home in Bristol, was even more critical.

"It would have been a hard job to defend any sort of total on what was obviously a very good wicket in a match dominated by batsmen," Graveney said. "But the way it has gone is unacceptable. It appears to me it was a case of them giving up. Some of the batsmen have had some time at the wicket, although the quality of the bowling they were facing was questionable. Our bowlers, though, have had a very bad experience and did not do enough to help themselves."

Pitches back home, meanwhile, remain a concern for both David Lloyd, the England coach, and Graveney, who believe the new structure of English cricket will bear the dividends it deserves only if county clubs make a commitment to provide fast, true pitches that wear for spinners in four days, thereby resembling more closely the surfaces on which most Test matches are played.

"There is a limit to the number of times you can say atmospheric conditions have been the reason for curtailed games," Graveney said of last summer. "We had above-average rainfall. But the wickets have been too damp, have favoured seam too much and have strangled slow bowling."

Derek Pringle, page 16