Calls for Lloyd to walk over Vaughan row

Referee's accusation of rudeness against the England captain rocks the disciplinary structure
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The Independent Online

They were measured, critical observations made at the end of a long and fragmented day. But the repercussions of what the England captain, Michael Vaughan, had to say about umpires in the Fourth Test here are now threatening to engulf the entire disciplinary structure of world cricket and overshadow the one-day series which starts here today.

They were measured, critical observations made at the end of a long and fragmented day. But the repercussions of what the England captain, Michael Vaughan, had to say about umpires in the Fourth Test here are now threatening to engulf the entire disciplinary structure of world cricket and overshadow the one-day series which starts here today.

There was an astonishing exchange of scathing comments yesterday, with Vaughan slap bang in the middle as he prepared for the opening match against South Africa. First, he was accused by Clive Lloyd, the match referee during the Test series, of being "rude and dismissive" at the disciplinary hearing which followed the opinions he expressed to the assembled media. (He was fined his match fee, some £3,500, the largest penalty imposed on an England captain.)

In reply, Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, denied the accusation, virtually called for Lloyd's removal as a referee and said his conduct was totally unacceptable. Neither the England and Wales Cricket Board nor the International Cricket Council would comment on the issue in which two of their employees are embroiled.

That silence will certainly not last for long, and the code of conduct which governs the behaviour of players will be under increased scrutiny. It seems amazing that this farrago has its roots in a Test that had everything in terms of twists, and ended in a magnificent England victory, setting up their first series win in South Africa for 40 years.

Vaughan attended a press conference at the end of the second day and had clearly made up his mind to comment on the umpires' decision to end play early because of bad light. As he spoke, the sun was shining. His point was that England had batted in extremely poor conditions earlier in the day, but having managed to gain the ascendancy - he was 82 not out at the time - the umpires went off for light.

Then, Vaughan said: "The umpires have to make a decision and they're in a difficult position. Nobody's blaming them. All we ask for is consistency, and we don't feel consistent decisions have been made today." This is as mild a rebuke as it is possible to imagine in a fraught sporting contest, but he had clearly breached the ICC code of conduct.

Subsequently, he was fined his entire match fee by Lloyd, a decision which prompted derision in some quarters but in others the opinion that Vaughan should pay up and get on with it. In fact, Fica, the international body of players' associations, became involved, because they were worried there was no right of appeal for such a minor offence.

That was the state of affairs until Lloyd's comments were revealed yesterday. The former West Indies captain said: "I have respect for the England captain and I expect the same from him. If he doesn't respect me, he should at least respect the position. He made matters worse for himself by his rude and dismissive attitude.

"I would have given him a lesser fine but for that, but I stopped short of banning him for the Fifth Test. Imagine what that would have done if the England captain couldn't lead his team in a match to win the series and accept the trophy. I took all that into consideration and gave him the least of three possible penalties."

When Bevan heard of Lloyd's comments he was outraged. "To bring to the media confidential notes of a code-of-conduct hearing when there are serious issues being discussed between Fica, the PCA, the ICC and the ECB is totally unacceptable," he said. "It brings into question his right to continue as a match referee, and his conduct should lead to an immediate review by the ICC."

Bevan said he rebutted Lloyd's claim that Vaughan had been either rude or dismissive, and suggested that Lloyd himself was in breach of the referees' code "at this delicate time". The PCA and Fica are miffed that Vaughan was fined so much, and the basis of their discussions with the ICC is that if maximum penalties are to be imposed for level-one and level-two offences, there should be a right of appeal.

It is known that the ECB were surprised by the level of Lloyd's fine. Equally, it has also become clear that Lloyd and his umpires (in the Test at the Wanderers, they were Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar) had become tired of the constant carping at their interpretation of regulations, and he might have decided to make an example of Vaughan.

The other matter which Fica are pointing out to the ICC is that Bucknor and Lloyd arrived late on the day in question after the weather cleared earlier than they might have anticipated.

All of this might have been designed to hinder Vaughan in finalising his team for the opening match at the Wanderers today. With Lloyd's comments fresh in the wind the vociferously abusive home crowd are bound to give England's captain a severe verbal mauling. This should take some of the heat off Kevin Pietersen, who was born in South Africa but has decided to play for England.

England's main selectorial conundrum will revolve around their seam-bowling attack, shorn of Andrew Flintoff. Nominally, they have seven bowlers for three places, but several of them are either injured or out of form. It was confirmed yesterday that Stephen Harmison will not be considered. James Anderson is desperately out of touch.

All that can be said with any certainty is that England's one-day attack will be led by a 34-year-old with a dodgy knee and a tendency to put on weight. Darren Gough was splendid in Kimberley on Friday, and now all he has to do is keep body and line together for seven games in seven towns separated by thousands of miles in 15 days.

Schedule

Today: First ODI (Johannesburg). 2 Feb: Second ODI (Bloemfontein, D/N). 4 Feb: Third ODI (Port Elizabeth, D/N). 6 Feb: Fourth ODI (Cape Town). 9 Feb: Fifth ODI (East London, D/N). 11 Feb: Sixth ODI (Durban, D/N). 13 Feb: Seventh ODI (Centurion, D/N).

Squads

South Africa: G C Smith (capt), A M Bacher, N Boje, M V Boucher, A B de Villiers, H H Gibbs, A J Hall, J H Kallis, J M Kemp, A Nel, M Ntini, S M Pollock, A G Prince, J A Rudolph.

England: M P Vaughan (capt), Kabir Ali, J M Anderson, G J Batty, I R Bell, P D Collingwood, A F Giles, D Gough, S J Harmison, M J Hoggard, G O Jones, S P Jones, K P Pietersen, V S Solanki, A J Strauss, M E Trescothick, A G Wharf.

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