Cricket: Graveney is ready to quit

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The Independent Online
DAVID GRAVENEY, England's chairman of selectors, is prepared to resign to deflect criticism away from the management partnership he believes can turn around the team's fortunes.

Graveney left South Africa yesterday to return home fully expecting criticism for England's defeat in the opening Test, despite the mitigating factors behind their performance.

He is prepared to take all that on board if it protects the captain Nasser Hussain and new coach Duncan Fletcher, a pairing he believes have the necessary credentials to restore England's shattered reputation.

"I have been tremendously proud of being chairman of selectors and I'll do whatever people want me to do," Graveney said. "I have not considered resigning but if that's what it takes to allow the present team to flourish, then that's what I'll do.

"There's bound to be criticism, but people have to realise that South Africa have two very special bowlers in Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald and in those conditions, most teams would have struggled after losing the toss.

"I don't believe either Nasser of Duncan deserve any criticism for what has happened so far, and if people feel the need to have a go at anyone then let them do it to me.

"It's crucial to the future of English cricket that they are given space and time to allow them to do the job.

"I've been very impressed during my week in South Africa both with the way they've handled themselves and the spirit they've developed among the squad."

Graveney, who was in the Republic in an advisory role, added: "We have a hard task ahead of us and to be 1-0 down straight away to a side like South Africa is not ideal.

"However, we believe England have the squad there to challenge and compete with one of the best teams in the world."