Cricket / Twelfth Man: Ted ain't dead, he's working

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The Independent Online
TED DEXTER may not be everyone's ideal England supremo but his devotion to duty cannot be faulted. Perhaps recalling the fuss when he missed England's losing start to the Ashes series four years ago the chairman of the selectors went flat out to attend Sunday's Texaco match.

Three weeks after Mike Gatting had been ferried out of Lord's by ambulance, and two days after his own back operation, Dexter was whisked to and from the ground in an ambulance and carried about by stretcher.

Being unable to sit down Dexter had to watch the match either standing up or lying down and when England collapsed he must have come close to following suit. But he survived the trauma to have the stitches out on Thursday and players will be relieved to hear he will be able to attend tomorrow's selection meeting.

TWO selectors taking extra care when parking will be Graham Gooch and Keith Fletcher. Both had cars broken into on England duty, Fletcher being done on successive nights in Manchester and Birmingham.

WHILE their opponents on Thursday will sport the familiar baggy green cap, adorned with emu and kangaroo, England will wear their blue baseball version, complete with lion rampant. But why a lion, ask Marlow trio Rachel, Alexandra and Liz Dennis, having endured displays in Sri Lanka that were neither leonine nor rampant. Kangaroo and emu may roam Australia's outback but when did lions last stroll the shires?

The connection comes from the crown heraldry but with that link in danger of bringing cricket into disrepute perhaps a more English animal could be found. Rabbits and donkeys spring to mind. The reader who writes to Twelfth Man, Independent sports desk, 40 City Rd, London EC1Y 2DB with the best alternative wins a bottle of Aberlour whisky.

GRAHAM Gooch's opening remark at a Neil Foster benefit dinner on Thursday: 'I'd like to take wine with all those who have played for Essex seconds'. Behind the stubbled mask lurks a self-deprecating humour.

LATEST pre-Test odds put England at 300-1 to win the Ashes 6-0 - Ladbrokes quote the same for the presence of aliens being confirmed by the United Nations and only 250-1 for the Loch Ness Monster being found. Australia are 66-1 to win all six.

UNDAUNTED by their 7-0 defeat in the Manchester & District League Cup final (see Twelfth Man last week) Lancashire CCC's football team are looking forward to gaining revenge on the Premier League champions Manchester United. The two Old Traffords stage annual cricket and football staff matches against each other and United won the last cricket match while the football was drawn.

Current pros are banned from their own game - 'We did think about playing Patrick Patterson a few years ago but they got wind of it,' said Lancashire's groundsman and football president, Peter Marron - but oldies play. So while there is no danger of having to mark Eric Cantona, a member of United's last championship team, Brian Kidd, is likely to play while Bryan Robson could line up in whites for the Reds.

SATURDAY SURFIE - No 2: Mark Waugh's Thigh Pad. After making his 178 against Surrey on Tuesday Mark Waugh had a special task. While most players' thigh pads are tossed back into the coffin no sooner than they have finished preventing the likes of Ambrose and Donald imbuing their owners' thighs with a purplish hue, Waugh's gets better care. Every century he scores is marked on the pad with a matchstick figure in the manner of RAF pilots bedecking their spitfires with swastikas for each hit. This week's was the 40th.

Q & A: Opinions on cricket: Thigh pads should be worn outside whites - why should leg pads get more attention? Family links to cricket: Twin sister does duty for Mark's brother Steve, cousin guards David Boon's valuables. Worst experience: Being borrowed by Merv Hughes after a pre-match chilli. After seven years with Mark aren't you, er, a bit, smelly?: No, I always get a good wash (the matchstick men are in indelible ink) and am sprayed with 'eau de cuisse'. Do you surf?: Only when the changing-room floods.