ECB furious as West Indies impose tax on England fans

Tim Lamb, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, yesterday launched a scathing attack on the West Indies Cricket Board for the $260 [£152] cricket levy they are imposing on England supporters who wish to purchase tickets for next year's tour to the Caribbean.

The "tax" the WICB are placing on tickets means that it will cost British holidaymakers approximately £350 for a five-day pass to watch England take on the West Indies in Barbados and Antigua.

"ECB has made strenuous efforts to try and convince the WICB that this cricket levy is an inequitable, disproportionate and unjustifiable way of treating England supporters," Lamb said. "We are extremely unhappy about the situation, about which there was no prior consultation, and have made our views known - very clearly - to the WICB. However, they have refused to reconsider the imposition of this "tax" and, as our hosts, that is their prerogative.

"The WICB have been accused of gratuitous and flagrant profiteering and we fully understand why so many of our supporters are so incensed about this issue. We have taken the matter up at the highest level with the International Cricket Council, who, while being sympathetic, have no power to intervene in this dispute. However, the ICC has said that this issue will be raised at the next meeting of the Full Member Country Chief Executives in an effort to avoid any repetition of this unfortunate practice happening again in the future."

England's four-Test series against the West Indies begins in March 2004.

Here in Sri Lanka, England's fast-bowling resources are once again in danger of being stretched to breaking point as scans have revealed the injury to James Anderson's right ankle to be more serious than thought. It had been hoped the Lancashire bowler would be fit for Sunday's final one-day match, but the damage he sustained to the joint while playing squash now appears certain to keep him out of the first Test.

"The X-rays and the CT scan Jimmy [Anderson] had were clear," said Dean Conway, the England physiotherapist. "But the MRI scan showed evidence of trauma around the joint. From what we could tell he has a grade one ligament injury. We will need a couple of days to assess it but... the worst-case scenario is that he will be out for three weeks. But we feel he will be playing again in 10 to 14 days."

The news that Anderson will miss the first Test in Galle on 2 December is another setback for a side who lost the services of Stephen Harmison on Wednesday. The Durham fast bowler returned home from Bangladesh early with an injury to his lower back but has since failed to prove he was fit enough to rejoin the squad.

In Matthew Hoggard, Richard Johnson and James Kirtley - who may now be asked to remain with the Test squad when the one-day series finishes - Michael Vaughan still has three fast bowlers who have proved they can win Test matches, but the absence of his first-choice opening combination will reduce the chances of England winning their three-Test series against Sri Lanka.

If England wish to be competitive in this morning's second one-day international in Colombo they will need to improve significantly from Tuesday. Playing here is tough, and any side can lose a one-day game, but seldom can there have been a more one-sided contest between two Test teams.