Cricket: Russell ruffles Lord's feathers

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The Independent Online
Tim Lamb, the England Cricket Board's chief executive, yesterday refuted claims made by Jack Russell that Lord's have "dragged their heels" in dealing with a row surrounding the publication of controversial extracts from the Gloucestershire and England wicketkeeper's forthcoming autobiography.

In the first extract from "Jack Russell Unleashed" published in a tabloid newspaper yesterday, the former chairman of selectors Ray Illingworth is accused of poor man-management, and there is criticism of Mike Atherton and Graham Gooch.

Further articles are planned, with the subject matter almost certainly the Devon Malcolm affair of 18 months ago and the events surrounding Russell's virtual inactivity in Zimbabwe and New Zealand this winter.

Lord's officials had advised Russell that changes needed to be made to the content of his book, due in the shops in a fortnight's time. But Russell has decided to press on regardless.

Russell, 31, claims Lord's had copies of the manuscript in time to ask for changes, but did nothing. Yesterday he threatened legal action if Lord's try to ban or fine him on a charge of bringing the game into disrepute or being in breach of contract.

Lamb said yesterday: "The Board will look at today's article and subsequent articles and if there are any concerns then the matter will be referred to the Board's discipline committee." Lamb added that Russell had been in contact with Tony Brown, the Board's administration secretary and the man responsible for vetting books by players.

The new chairman of selectors, David Graveney, is caught in the middle of the controversy. As well as being a former team-mate and captain of Russell's at Gloucestershire, he is the general secretary of the Cricketers' Association.

He said on Radio 5 Live yesterday: "I suppose my personal view as an individual is it saddens me that cricketers should make comments about other ones, but if it is seen in a constructive light then... the argument for it is freedom of speech. The players' union as an association will, if Jack wants us to, represent him in any way he will be properly represented.

"We will have to wait and see the ECB's reaction. Its timing is not ideal, with the ECB forming its new era, and new people like myself have been appointed."

Tony Pigott, the former Sussex bowler, has been confirmed as the county's chief executive.

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