Crawley claims he was forced to leave

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John Crawley, the deposed Lancashire captain, is prepared to take the county to court in support of his claims that he is being forced out of Old Trafford. Crawley, who has asked to be released only 12 months into a four-year contract, last night listed a catalogue of damning allegations that "amount almost to constructive dismissal."

The 30-year-old former England batsman spelt out what he described as "evasive and devious practices" by the county during a season which ended with the coach Bob Simpson leaving and Crawley being replaced as captain by Warren Hegg.

He was unhappy about the manner of his sacking and about Simpson's departure, but says his anger goes much deeper. He also accuses the county of contributing to the team's decline on the field by under-investment.

"A lot revolves around finding out untruths, which has dismayed me, but there are also other things," he said. "At the start of my contract I asked about a couple of issues that were verified at the time, but have since turned out to be untrue. I now feel that I signed my contract under false pretences.

"When I was sacked I realised that captains and coaches are judged on the results they achieve. I can take that without a problem because we did not have a successful season. But there were other aspects. I was told I had no support in the cricket committee and there were other public abusive comments made that I found out about second hand.

"Since the end of the season I have asked for meetings to get my points addressed and the problems sorted out, but I have been met with evasive behaviour on the club's behalf all the way through and they still have not been discussed.

"I have different views from the club over the direction in which I think cricket should be going at the club but it is the evasive and devious practices I have come across that is the main reason I've asked to be released.

"I have been advised that all of these things added together almost amount to a constructive dismissal. In view of that, I cannot go into specific details at this stage."

However, Crawley makes himself quite clear that he feels the club has failed to divert enough revenue from commercial activities at Old Trafford into improving the team and coaching staff, and made too little effort to keep Simpson when the former Australian Test coach reached the end of his two year contract.

"Lancashire should be aiming to attract and produce Test match players, but cricket needs to be held in higher esteem at the club than it is at the moment," he said.

"The club has lots of other businesses, but not many of the rewards they generate are reaped upon the cricket team."

Crawley is prepared to forgo a potentially lucrative benefit scheduled for 2003 and says he can no longer give the club his full commitment. He is further worried by the strains being imposed on his wife, who is seven months pregnant.

Jim Cumbes, Lancashire's chief executive, last night denied the club had been in any way evasive. "John's request to be released has gone through the normal procedures but I don't think there can be a committee meeting until 3 December because the chairman, Jack Simmons, is away," he said.

"I don't think we have been evasive. We have tried to talk to John, but it has become clear he wants to leave, although after making the commitment of a four-year contract to him I can't see the club being prepared to let him go.

"As for constructive dismissal I don't really know what he means."