Cricket: Illingworth's edict escapes divine retribution

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The Independent Online
THERE was no bolt of lightning at 11 o'clock in Nottingham yesterday. Clearly The Lord had more important things to worry about than the sacking of his man with the England cricket team, the Rev Andrew Wingfield- Digby, writes Glenn Moore.

England were thus able to wrap up victory against New Zealand after Ray Illingworth, the new chairman of selectors, had decided to dispense with a team chaplain because he felt players who 'needed a shoulder to cry on' were not 'tough enough' to beat sides like Australia.

But Wingfield-Digby, who has been the team's unpaid spiritual adviser since 1991, said: 'There is no tougher person to walk the face of this earth than my boss Jesus Christ.

'I agree that our players should be tough,' the 43-year-old former Oxford University and Minor Counties cricketer said. 'I have had to spend most of my life fending off criticism that I am too competitive to be a Christian. Providing a shoulder to cry on has never been my definition of my work but I am advised my presence could be seen as being 'a bit soft'.'

Illingworth said: 'The TCCB asked me if I required Andrew to carry on, but I did not see the need. We won't be playing tiddlywinks in Australia and if the players need a shoulder to cry on they should not be in the side. That's nothing against Andrew, I like the bloke and he is still welcome to pop into the dressing- room.'

Although several counties have chaplains no other international sides do, and after England had completed their innings' victory in 90 minutes yesterday the New Zealand captain, Ken Rutherford, greeted suggestions that there was a chaplain going spare with the reply: 'We are not in those dire circumstances yet.'