Emburey takes on role of diplomat

ENGLAND A TOUR: Young Essex man puts his back into his future as next crop of Test cricketers set sail
Diplomacy will be almost as high a priority as winning games for the England A team who leave for a two-month, three Test tour of Pakistan today.

The side, under the management of John Emburey, is the first England outfit to tour Pakistan since Mike Gatting's infamous Shakoor Rana tour of 1987 ended in acrimony.

Emburey, who was on that tour, is now 43, and is excited at the prospect of leading many of England's emerging stars on what will undoubtedly be a tough tour - both on and off the field. "This is a bridge-building tour for cricket, and not just English cricket," he said.

"We are not scheduled to send a senior team to Pakistan for another seven or eight years, but in the shorter term the experiences we have this winter will not only greatly benefit our young players but also give us valuable information ahead of the World Cup next spring.

"I'm sure there will also be certain players we will come across who will be involved in the World Cup. This A team squad is full of good players, and my job is primarily to help them improve their cricket and to iron out any technical flaws.

"But most of all we will be talking about the game, and learning. I played a Test match last summer and I have a very good rapport with the younger players. Coaching is something I'm passionately interested in and I hope to be coaching at county level next summer.

"There will be discipline both on and off the field, but I hope the players will enjoy themselves and have a winning tour. I was very impressed when I visited India last winter to spend some time with Alan Wells' A team. I hope we can establish the same positive approach this time."

n Salim Malik, the former Pakistan Test captain, has been cleared of bribery charges by a former Pakistani Supreme Court judge. Fakhruddin Ebrahim, who was asked by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to investigate allegations of bribery made by Australian players, said: "I believe 100 per cent that Malik is innocent."

ENGLAND A SQUAD: N Hussain (Essex, capt), J E R Gallian (Lancashire), E S H Giddins (Sussex), D W Headley (Kent), R C Irani (Essex), N V Knight (Warwickshire), A McGrath (Yorkshire), D P Ostler (Warwickshire), K J Piper (Warwickshire), J C Pooley (Middlesex), I D K Salisbury (Sussex), A M Smith (Gloucestershire), R D Stemp (Yorkshire), S D Udal (Hampshire), C White (Yorkshire). Tour manager: M D Vockins. Cricket manager: J E Emburey.

ITINERARY: November: 1 Pakistan Cricket Board XI (Karachi); 3 Pakistan Cricket Board XI (Thatta); 5-8 Combined X (Karachi); 11-14 Pakistan Cricket Board XI (Lahore); 17-21 FIRST TEST (Multan); 24-27 Patron's XI (Sialkot); 30-4 Dec SECOND TEST (Rawalpindi). December: 8-12 THIRD TEST (Peshawar); 15 First one-day international (Peshawar); 18 Second one-day international (Faisalabad); 20 Third one-day international (Shiakhupura).