Cricketer's Diary: A tale of two Teds

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The Independent Online
IT HAS been a bad week for Teds. Monday marked the resignation of Lord Ted - no one knows from where that title originated - as chairman of the England Cricket Committee. 'Thank God,' he will probably be saying privately. 'At least now I won't have a gaggle of reporters camped outside my townhouse any more.' He was moving to West Sussex in November anyway.

Earlier this week, a far less illustrious Ted - of the Woodley family - was asked to leave by Surrey. This 82- year-old stalwart had steadfastly turned up to The Oval at 7.30am every day of the summer for the last 14 years to see to the players' needs. If they wanted plasters, drinks, bacon sandwiches, racing tips or ribald stories, Ted supplied them with speed and a sense of humour. I liked his little biscuit tin, which contained everything from nail clippers to spare spark plugs. He never seemed to tire, and after cleaning up the after-match debris toddled home just in time for Minder. That will be his epitaph: everything was safe with Ted.

He was not an establishment man, though, and that may have been his undoing. Surrey would not elaborate on the reasons for their action, but according to one unofficial source at the club, Ted was given his marching orders for his attitude and for supplying the disabled second XI scorer's chauffeur with a baked potato. He was always trying to help.

So was Ted Dexter. His problem was his job description - he never really had one. It was unfair to blame him for England's inadequacies at Test level (he was relatively inactive in selection meetings) and while some of his explanations were a touch mystifying, they were a headline writer's dream. People ridiculed him when he turned up to county matches on his Yamaha 750, they mocked him when he preferred to stay home and watch matches on television. In fact this was a much better way of studying form as he found some babbling alickadoo would always distract him at the actual game.

His remit, to use the trendy term, extended beyond Test cricket to cover the whole of the youth set-up and he introduced the scouting system, which sends former Test players to matches everywhere, even Wales. In a few years' time we will probably applaud the success of the four-day County Championship which he helped to instigate.

Dexter has always had difficulty remembering players' names and this, coupled with a perceived glamorous lifestyle, aroused criticism born largely out of jealousy.

There has been much speculation as to who his successor might be. In my opinion the Test and County Cricket Board would be better off using the money elsewhere - English cricket's malaise stems from the fact that it is over-delegated. The sooner we cut down on peripheral committees and symbolic chairmen the better. A more pressing question is, who will be appointed as the England and Australian players' gofer at The Oval in time for the sixth Test next week.

OUR umpires deserve enormous sympathy - their job becomes harder by the day. Never mind six and a half hours blanching at raucous appeals, the displays of petulance, the impossible bat-pad decisions, the run- outs which demand a steward's enquiry. Now they have to meticulously gauge the height of rapid bouncers and full tosses, examine the ball every over for signs of tampering (it still goes on, as it always has done) and endure television analysis of their hairline judgements.

All this for a salary of around pounds 15,000, which is less, in some cases, than they earned as a player, and no job security. They even have to organise their own accommodation. Some have bought Dormobiles or caravans. One parked his at Lord's, but found the ground locked when he returned from the pub, forcing him to scale the Grace gates. Yet none, without exception, have ever lost their sense of humour. The first international umpires conference held last week in Coventry was long overdue. Let's hope that each of our panel at least receive a decent bonus out of the five-figure sum generously injected by National Grid this year.

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