Cricket World Cup: Umpires add to confusion

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IT STARTED with a shambles and ended with a streaker. And if the much-publicised "Anti-Streaker squad" recruited by Kent did not appear to be doing their stuff, nor were the umpires.

While the appearance of a male streaker lightened up the time-out due to the weather, the interval between innings was a mess. It should have been 45 minutes, but because England polished off Kenya nine minutes before the scheduled end of the innings, the umpires added that time on to the interval.

In fact, what should have happened was that the interval should have been reduced by at least 29 minutes because more than an hour was lost before any play could get under way yesterday morning. As a result, by the time rain drove everyone off shortly before six o'clock, England had faced just 20 overs.

Under the World Cup regulations it needs 25 overs per side for there to be a match, anything less is regarded as a no result and each side picks up one point. That meant that those 29 minutes were crucial, because Kenya would have had that much more time and would have bowled enough overs to have made it a match.

Tim Lamb, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, admitted: "Unfortunately the umpires misinterpreted the playing regulations. The umpires thought they only applied to the second day. We will make sure this sort of thing does not happen again."

Having gone off in the rain, the officials realised what a pickle they had got themselves into, because a day of inactivity today would have cost the eventual winners a point, so play resumed in rain to ensure that England had faced the requisite number of overs. Thankfully, none of that was necessary as they hammered out the runs in the gloom.

At least there was enough time for the fast bowler Darren Gough to become the third Englishman to pass 100 wickets in one-day internationals, behind Ian Botham (145 from 116 matches) and Phillip DeFreitas (115 from 103). At the rate Gough is going, he should outstrip them, since he has 102 from 62 at an average of around 24.

The Yorkshireman said afterwards: "I knew I was approaching the hundred mark so it is a relief to get there. It was not playing on my mind, like a batsman in the 90s."

Now Gough intends going further than any Englishman has been before. "It has always been my ambition to get to 200 Test wickets and 150 one- day international wickets, and I am still heading in the right direction."