On the Front Foot: Players seek investigation into claims of Indian pressure


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The Independent Online

There is a spat between players and the International Cricket Council. On the one hand the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (Fica) say that matters are "concerning and disappointing" and on the other the ICC say they are "angry and disappointed" – from which it may be gathered that neither are happy. At issue is the election to the ICC cricket committee of the players' representative.

Fica want the matter referred to the ICC's ethics officer because they are adamant that captains were put under pressure by their boards to change their vote from Tim May, the former Fica head, to Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, who has never before been involved in representing players.

After weeks of negotiations, Fica decided enough was enough and are referring the matter themselves. The ICC erupted at this, suggesting that Fica were being misleading and that they had breached trust. Fica have responded to say that this is merely an attempt to deflect attention from the real point and they have issued a statement of unity signed by all players from six countries. Unfortunately, India is not one of these. And that is at the heart of the argument.

If votes were changed it was probably at the behest of India politely asking other boards. The players are seriously fed up and, of course, if the ICC have nothing to worry about they will not mind the matter being examined by their ethics officer.

Selection headache

Choosing teams is a tough job and this column will never again berate selectors who get it wrong (well not often). As part of the panel charged with picking the ICC's team of the Champions Trophy it quickly became clear that one man's star performer is another's prize dud.

There was also the small matter of having a geographical spread, it obviously not being politic to pick six from one country and five from another. In the event, seven players were easily agreed but there was an emergency last-minute exchange of emails after the final. The outcome was that MS Dhoni went from not being in the team to being its captain. This, however, was not a case of India getting its way again.

Moving words for Greig

The turn-out at Tony Greig's memorial service last Monday was huge. Scores of his former international colleagues were there including those who defected with him to World Series Cricket, Dennis Amiss, John Snow and Derek Underwood. Amiss gave one of the addresses, as did Richie Benaud. Both were impressively moving but the wisest was delivered by Greig's widow, Vivian, who told the congregation why her husband had been correct 36 ago in being Kerry Packer's recruiting agent. It was brave, noble and just. "We met at a cricket match one afternoon in Sydney and struck up a conversation that lasted 33 years," she said.

Bringing friends to life

The Friends Life T20 programme next Friday is a masterpiece of fixture scheduling. It deserves full houses everywhere since it features no fewer than six derby matches: Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire, Kent v Essex, Somerset v Gloucestershire, Surrey v Middlesex, Sussex v Hampshire and, of course, Lancashire v Yorkshire. It will be a genuine test of the format's continuing popularity. For a weekend at least it may stop players from pointing out the vast distances they have to travel to ply their trade.