Cricket: Gower's omission 'scandal'

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The Independent Online
DAVID GOWER, rejected by England's cricket selectors as 'too old' for this winter's tour to India and Sri Lanka, made it to the launch of Gower, the Autobiography in Covent Garden last night, without the aid of a zimmer frame, and said: 'I'm disappointed, but a long way from being despondent.'

Gower's omission from England's touring side has sparked off one of the biggest controversies in cricket for many years, and among last night's guests expressing their discontent with the England selectors were the former Conservative MP Ian Gilmour, now Lord Gilmour, and the former England football captain Gary Lineker.

Lineker, whose England career ended when, as captain, he was substituted in this summer's European Championship match against Sweden, said: 'I'm far more upset about what has happened to David than the way I felt that night in Sweden. I think it's scandalous.'

Gilmour was even more scathing. 'In my view, the England selectors are absolute dunderheads and must be called to account.'

The level of public support for Gower was illustrated by a BBC Newsnight programme scheduled for Tuesday which involved a 'for and against' debate on Gower's omission. Tim Rice, the song writer, volunteered to promote the case for Gower, but when the programmers could not find anyone to speak in favour of the selectors, the scheduled transmission was cancelled.

Gower said last night: 'The publisher had great foresight in calling it 'The Autobiography'. My original title was 'Endangered Species', which is looking more and more apposite by the day. It's nice to see that the book is selling well, but it in no way compensates, either financially or in terms of pride, for missing this tour.'

Gower, thought to be about to sign a new two-year contract with Hampshire, is still mystified by the 'old age' reasons advanced by the selectors for his exclusion from the tour party.

Keith Fletcher, the new England manager, expressed concern about Gooch, 39, Gatting, and Gower, both 35, 'all retiring at the same time', an excuse that has been swallowed by practically no one in the country.

Martin Johnson assisted David Gower with the writing of 'Gower, the Autobiography'.

Reports and scoreboard, page 32