Cricket / Twelfth Man: Supermen wanted to win prizes

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IT SEEMED a good idea at the time but the Benson and Hedges Cup bonus scheme looks as if it might need some revision for next season. At the beginning of the competition - the first season without zonal matches - players were offered a pounds 1,000 bonus for scoring 400 runs or taking 20 wickets.

Going into today's final that leaves Derbyshire's Peter Bowler, the leading run-maker, requiring 208 runs to claim the batting prize. But if that looks difficult it is positively easy compared to the task facing Wasim Akram, the top wicket-taker, who requires 11 more victims. The task has not been made easier by the new format with both sides only playing three matches en route to Lord's - not including Derbyshire's bowl-off win over Somerset.

The other leading batsmen are Paul Terry, of the quarter-finalists Hampshire, with 185 runs and then Bowler's opening partner, Kim Barnett, with 165. Neil Fairbrother (160) is Lancashire's best. Devon Malcolm (Derbyshire) and Vince Wells (Leicestershire) are second in the bowling list with seven wickets. There is one other way of winning the loot and that is to take 10 wickets in an innings.

Given that the golfing equivalent of such prizes is usually an expensive new car awarded for a hole in one, cricketers seem hard done by.

AUSTRALIA'S performance in the Trent Bridge Test was watched from the dressing-room wall by Craig McDermott - the team carry around a poster of him since his departure through illness. The hope among the tourists as they headed for Ireland this weekend was that, come Headingley, they will not also have to pin up one of the latest Merv Hughes T-shirts which depicts him in a gorilla position and is simply captioned 'Sumo'.

THE MOST relieved Australian this week was the seamer Wayne Holdsworth who finally got off the mark in Thursday's Minor Counties match. Not since the leg-spinner Jim Higgs - now a selector - in 1975 has an Australian gone through an entire tour without making a run.

Holdsworth first batted against Worcestershire in early May and made a duck. No one is suggesting a conspiracy but until the match at Stone the Aussies kept declaring at the fall of the ninth wicket. However, the prospect of Holdsworth being required in the next Test brought a change of heart.

ALSO on the scorecard for the first time at Stone was Mark Taylor, the bowler who took his first wicket of the tour. This leaves an anxious couple of months for the Australian journalist who has laid a lot of dollars on the belief that the vice-captain would not take two wickets on the tour.


'Get stuffed, Irish, English, whingeing Aussie.'

As probably the closest approximation to a lively exchange between Merv and Martin McCague at the wicket, Kay Donnelly, of Manchester, wins this week's bottle of Aberlour Whisky. Next week's bottle goes to the first entry out of the hat to name all Graham Gooch's opening partners with England.

SATURDAY SURFIE: The manager - Des Rundle. In a throwback to the great traditions of the genre, the Australians chose their tour manager on a 'jobs for the boys' basis. The result was the selection of Des Rundle, a long-serving South Australian administrator and former fast bowler from one of Adelaide's founding families - the city's main shopping mall is named after them.

The tour manager's main tasks are making sure Merv doesn't miss the bus and getting on with the press. This is not one of Rundle's strong points, with half the Australian press corps no longer on speaking terms with him, partly because of incidents like last week's constant refusal to admit anything was wrong with Allan Border when he was off the field with hay fever.

The paranoia began in the first month when he criticised the touring press for having the temerity to report Border's stump-bashing antics at Lord's - which he also denied seeing. Given that Australia are winning, the contrast between Rundle's attitude and Bob Bennett's excellent approach on England's miserable Asian tour is acute.