Cricket; Lord's expects Acfield to sort it out

Hill claims second pole in a row for Williams as former team-mate struggles in new colours
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The Independent Online
ALAN SMITH, the chief executive of the Test and County Cricket Board, reacted yesterday to the mounting farce surrounding the forthcoming election of two England selectors, who will join the chairman, Ray Illingworth, the coach, David Lloyd and the captain, presumably Mike Atherton, in selecting the teams to play India and Pakistan this summer.

But his message appeared to be "Carry On Campaigning", while we wait for the end-of- season report of the working party chaired by David Acfield.

Smith's statement was prompted when Fred Titmus withdrew from the ballot, in protest at what he called the "nonsense" whereby the counties have now put up nine candidates.

Smith said: "David Acfield's working party has been charged with looking into all aspects of the running of the England team. And I have no doubt that the election of selectors comes within those terms of reference. The job of David's committee is to investigate fully everything to do with the management, selection and preparation of England teams. But, for the moment, I have to conduct this ballot. All nine candidates were properly nominated - one has chosen to withdraw, which he is perfectly at liberty to do."

Privately, however, there are many within the English game who have been appalled by the rush of nominations for the two posts. On Thursday, the Hampshire chief executive Tony Baker said the election could easily become "an embarrassment", a point which others feel may already have been passed.

Titmus, who served alongside David Graveney as a selector last year, has withdrawn because he believes some counties have provoked a free-for- all, proposing candidates who would not be able to do the job properly.

Illingworth has already said that he believes only "three or four" of the original nine candidates could put in the hours demanded by the job - and that comment came before Titmus, undoubtedly one of them, withdrew. There has inevitably been a focus on the candidature of Ian Botham, not known for his attendance at county matches.

Illingworth, who had counted on Titmus as an ally, could now find himself working with selectors he does not want after the 17 April deadline. The eight surviving candidates are: Graveney, Botham, Graham Gooch, John Edrich, Brian Bolus, Geoff Miller, Kim Barnett and Chris Cowdrey.

Botham close-up, page 23