Cricket: Hick, Caddick and Tufnell on call

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The Independent Online
GRAEME HICK, the only batsman still playing first-class cricket to have scored 100 centuries, has been put on stand-by for England's Ashes tour of Australia later this year.

Hick was left out of the party announced earlier this month, but the England selectors said yesterday that he would be a non-travelling reserve, along with the pace bowler Andy Caddick and the left-arm spinner Phil Tufnell.

"The three players we have placed on stand-by are proven Test cricketers who are very much part of our current plans," the chairman of selectors, David Graveney, said.

All three will be expected to stay fit and be ready to fly to Australia at short notice. England officials also said that Graham Thorpe and Alex Tudor had passed fitness tests on back and foot injuries respectively, and would leave for Australia with the rest of the England party on 21 October.

Lancashire's John Crawley won the vote for the seventh batting place ahead of Hick, although the Worcestershire man was selected for next month's Wills International Cup one-day tournament in Bangladesh. The Somerset bowler Caddick was the leading English wicket-taker this summer with 105 victims, but missed out to Kent's Dean Headley when the squad to tour Australia was announced. The Middlesex spinner Tufnell failed to win a place in any of the England squads, as the Essex veteran Peter Such gained a surprise call-up for the trip to Australia.

Lord MacLaurin, the chairman of the English cricket board, believes there must be an injection of pounds 300m into the game to produce a successful national side.

Alec Stewart's England team gave the sport a much-needed boost with the first series win on home soil for 13 years this summer when they beat South Africa 2-1, but yesterday MacLaurin said: "Investment in the game is vital. At the moment, the turnover of cricket is about pounds 60m, but we have identified the need to invest pounds 300m if we are going to improve facilities for spectators around the country and develop the kind of talent we need to sustain a winning England team."

MacLaurin added: "Cricket is still our national summer sport but it has taken a severe beating over the past few years. Our Test-series win over South Africa was the first hint of a revival which I believe will surge forward into the millennium."

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