Cricket: TCCB 'confident' on Indian tour

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The Independent Online
THE Test and County Cricket Board remain convinced that England's cricketers will be going to India this winter - but wherever they end up, they insist they are still better off without David Gower.

After yesterday's winter meeting at Lord's, the board chairman, AC Smith, said that India had been discussed and that the safety of the players was 'paramount'. However, he added that no other contingency plans were being considered and that the board remained 'confident' the tour would go ahead. 'We have had no official talks with any other country, including New Zealand,' Smith said.

The New Zealand board chairman, Peter McDermott, was reported as saying on Wednesday that his country might be able to help out, but he has apparently sent a fax to Smith claiming he had been misquoted. In addition, the New Zealand board's chief executive, Graham Dowling, has now said that fitting England into their schedule would be 'very difficult'.

As for the team itself, Smith emphasised that the representatives of the 18 first-class counties, the Minor Counties and the MCC, had expressed their 'unanimous and enthusiastic support for the team selected'. Without mentioning Gower, or anyone else, by name, Smith said: 'There was an expression of total confidence in both the selection process and the selectors', adding, somewhat curiously, 'and there was particular mention of Graham Gooch.'

The board will wait for the result of an MCC investigation before making its own pronouncement on how to deal with the current vogue issue, ball-tampering, and the overall feel of yesterday's meeting was that the TCCB has scarcely tampered with anything.

The one bouncer per batsman, per over regulation is to stay as is the 25-point penalty for unfit pitches. The TCCB did agree, however, on awarding two extras for no balls instead of one (the extras to be in addition to any runs the batsman might score off the illegal deliver) and there will be a minor alteration in the county championship bonus points system. Bowling points will remain the same but the four batting points will start and end between 200 and 350 runs rather than 150 and 300. The overs available for accruing bonus points will also expand from 100 to 120.