Cricket: Lloyd plays down storm over Hughes: Opposing team managers summoned by the match referee as tempers become frayed on the opening day of the sixth Test

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The Independent Online
CLIVE LLOYD, who as the match referee censured the Australians at Nottingham, was in action again here yesterday on the opening day of the sixth Test. But it was more a case of the head issuing a reminder of his presence than giving out detention.

After what Bob Simpson, the Australian coach, described as 'a spirited day's cricket', he and his English counterpart, Keith Fletcher, were summoned to Lloyd's study along with the playground supervisors, Mervyn Kitchen and Barry Meyer.

Under discussion was the discourse between Merv Hughes and Graeme Hick, the keen appeal when Australia thought Alec Stewart had been caught at slip off Shane Warne on 21, and an incident soon after Angus Fraser had come to the wicket.

At the end of his over Hughes aggressively threw the ball to wicketkeeper Ian Healy close enough to Fraser for him to read the maker's logo - had it been travelling slower.

Fraser, having decided he had not spent two years slogging back to fitness only to be knocked out before bowling a ball, had to be restrained by Alec Stewart from approaching Hughes and then had words with the Australian captain, Allan Border.

'If one of my players aimed a ball at a batsman on purpose he would hit him,' Simpson said. 'Merv has got a very good throwing arm and that one went back at only about one-fiftieth pace.'

Fletcher concurred: 'I don't think Merv threw the ball at Gus, just fairly close. We've got no complaints.'

The umpires, it was confirmed, spoke to the Australians on the field and, said Lloyd, 'handled matters to my total satisfaction'.

Fletcher was less happy with his players - 'we are not going on to make the big scores and it has been happening for too long' - and their preparation.

That was severely hindered when, on wickets described by Fletcher as 'poor', Thorpe had his left thumb broken before play by a loosener from a 17-year-old schoolboy, Peter Dickinson, that lifted off a length.

Fletcher said he would be complaining to the relevant people who, embarrassingly for the Test and County Cricket Board, include their inspector of pitches, the Surrey groundsman Harry Brind.

The Test and County Cricket Board announced yesterday that three players, Mike Atherton, the England captain, Alec Stewart and Robin Smith were being given full winter tour contracts in advance of team selection. Secondary contracts were awarded to Graeme Hick, Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe, Martin McCague, Mark Lathwell, Andy Caddick, Mark Ilott, Alan Igglesden and Peter Such. All contracts are subject to fitness tests.

(Photograph omitted)

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