Cricket: TCCB inquiry into contrived declarations

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THE Test and County Cricket Board is to investigate recent matches in which results have been obtained by contrived declarations. 'What happened at Todmorden and Old Trafford is not what we want to see,' the board's cricket secretary, Tim Lamb, said yesterday.

Lamb confirmed that two letters had been received from members of the public who were at Todmorden last week, when Lancashire's second team bowled 18 no-balls to the boundary in order to give Yorkshire seconds a target. 'We have set up an inquiry and we are waiting for reports,' he added.

The board is also awaiting reports from the umpires Barrie Meyer and Barrie Leadbeater on Lancashire's defeat by Glamorgan after two Lancashire tail-end batsmen had scored 235 off 12 overs to accelerate a declaration. 'We have no wish to see the image of the game brought into disrepute, but I must stress that both these matches were played within the regulations,' Lamb said. 'Cricket is a game that is easy to manipulate and we do rely in the end on the good sense and taste of those playing to protect that image.

'It has been the board's policy to encourage enterprise and attacking cricket, which is why winning a match is worth, in points, double the number that can be won in batting and bowling. We were hoping that the advent of four-day cricket would put an end to these situations.

'It is impossible to legislate for everything that can happen in cricket. When the weather intervenes the players will seek some means within the rules to get maximum points. What we have to do is to try to ensure that their resourcefulness does not demean first-class cricket.'

Lamb revealed that the board, last winter, considered differing awards of points: 'We are reluctant to go back to awarding points for non-achievement, for a draw, but in the light of the reports we receive and the opinions we get from the counties we may have to think again.'

The board does not want further regulations. 'The rule book gets thicker year by year making what should be a simple game all the more complicated,' Lamb said.

The 19-year-old at the centre of Monday's furore at Old Trafford, Glen Chapple, admitted he did not enjoy scoring 100 runs off 27 balls in 21 minutes: 'Records didn't occur to me. I was out there to do a job. It wasn't much fun.'

The Lancashire committee will not be happy about a disastrous 10 days in which their team lost to Derbyshire in the Benson and Hedges final at Lord's, after starting as 4-11 favourites, then lost a Championship match and a Sunday League game to Glamorgan by huge margins.

The team were called to a closed meeting on Sunday. With a membership of 13,500, Lancashire's expectations match those of their neighbours, Manchester United, and their following now face the rest of the season in mid-table mediocrity.

Merv Hughes, the Australian fast bowler who was troubled by a groin strain during the third Test, expects to be fully fit for the fourth Test against England, starting at Headingley tomorrow. 'I'm feeling fitter and fresher than ever,' Hughes said after bowling in the nets yesterday.

Boon the bedrock,

Cricketer's Diary, page 32