Vaughan's referee row rumbles on

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The argument between the England captain and the match referee was threatening yesterday to become a test case of player power. What should have been an open and shut process, in which Michael Vaughan paid a fine imposed by Clive Lloyd for a trifling breach of the game's code of conduct, has already burgeoned far beyond its immediate significance.

The argument between the England captain and the match referee was threatening yesterday to become a test case of player power. What should have been an open and shut process, in which Michael Vaughan paid a fine imposed by Clive Lloyd for a trifling breach of the game's code of conduct, has already burgeoned far beyond its immediate significance.

It is now certain to feature prominently at the International Cricket Council's meeting in Melbourne this week. But whatever the chief executives of the world's cricket boards decide, there must be concern that the reputations of both men might be tainted over a piffling spat which could easily have been avoided.

Vaughan declined to comment after the one-day international here yesterday and said the matter was in the hands of the Professional Cricketers' Association and its chief executive, Richard Bevan. But it was a relief to hear that he had retained his sense of humour. After receiving his man of the match cheque for 5,000 rand he said: "I'll put that towards my fine."

There have already been too many po faces around. The affair had taken a more serious turn at the weekend after Lloyd described as "rude and dismissive" the England captain's attitude at a disciplinary hearing during the Wanderers Test. Bevan, who was acting with Vaughan's knowledge, immediately retorted by questioning Lloyd's fitness to continue as a match referee.

Perhaps only cricket could find itself in this tangle. The trouble is that getting into tangles is easy; getting out of them is harder. Neither Vaughan nor Lloyd were showing any inclination towards contrition yesterday, though Lloyd pulled out of a planned interview on BBC Five Live on ICC directions.

The sorry affair is a tawdry hangover of the fourth Test at the Wanderers, where England pulled off a fine victory. On the second evening Vaughan made some deliberate but reasonable comments about the umpires' interpretation of the law on bad light and said that they had been inconsistent. Nobody argued.

But he was in breach of the code and Lloyd fined him his match fee of £3,500, which is still unpaid. Privately, Vaughan, the PCA and the England and Wales Cricket Board were surprised at the level of fine and started making noises about changing the regulations so players could appeal for minor indiscretions.

Lloyd then 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."

Bevan told The Independent On Sunday that Lloyd had breached the confidentiality of the disciplinary hearing. "It brings into question his right to continue as a match referee and his conduct should lead to an immediate review by the ICC," he said. He was less trenchant in BBC radio interviews yesterday but said Lloyd himself might have brought the game into disrepute and refuted the allegation about Vaughan's attitude.

ICC spokesman Brendan McClements hardly gave an equivocal backing to Lloyd. "We prefer issues between players and match referees to be carried out away from the spotlight," he said. "I won't speculate whether he's broken the code of conduct but it's something we will look at."

Unless both parties explain the details it is difficult to ascertain how exactly the disciplinary hearing proceeded. But it has been suggested that Lloyd was offended because Vaughan went in eager to have the matter cleared up quickly. No chance of that now.

Comments