As expected, the board's winter meeting at Lord's confirmed that there will be no formal successor to Ted Dexter, the first and last chairman of the England Committee. Instead, a chairman of selectors solely concerned with playing matters will be appointed by the time the county representatives reconvene in March. To this end, a working party - or 'sifting sieve' in board parlance - comprising the chairman of the board, Frank Chamberlain, the chairman of the cricket committee, Ossie Wheatley, the chief executive, A C Smith, and two, as yet unnamed, county chairmen has been formed with the express aim of making recommendations and inviting nominations from the counties. The possibility of a current player gaining the nod has not been ruled out.
The remaining responsibilities of the now defunct England Committee will devolve to the Development Committee, in Smith's words 'very much a management committee', comprising himself, Wheatley, the England manager, Keith Fletcher, the director of cricket development, Micky Stewart, plus a chairman whose identity is expected to be announced by mid-February.
Much as this apparent increase in bureaucracy will attract its share of derision, the volte face on the county game is even more baffling. Less than a year after the counties voted to implement the recommendations of the Murray Report for a minimum of three years, the Sunday League will revert from 50 overs a side to 40 as from April, the only significant change from the old recipe being the reintroduction of unrestricted run-ups. 'It was felt that, although philosophically a better game, a 50-over match sandwiched in the middle of a four-day match was too arduous for the players and detracted from the quality of the game,' the board cricket secretary, Tim Lamb, said.
In the Benson and Hedges Cup, moreover, Kent's proposal for a return to a group format in the first round has been agreed in principle for 1995.