England in jam

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The Independent Online
A NUMBER of England A players could miss out on World Cup places because of an administrative mix-up. Lord's officials are seeking clarification on a rules interpretation which could cost Phil DeFreitas, Shaun Udal, Nasser Hussain and Dean Headley a chance of appearing in the tournament next year.

England A, currently touring Pakistan, learned yesterday that England's provisional World Cup squad of 20 does not include any of them. Players such as Hussain, Headley and Udal had been under the impression, given to them by Lord's, that good performances in Pakistan could earn them places in the final squad of 14 which has to be selected by 22 January. However, it now seems that the final 14 must come from the provisional 20, contrary to the TCCB's understanding of the regulations.

Lord's have interpreted the three steps of selection - the naming of a 20 by 30 November, an 18 by 31 December, and then a 14 by 22 January - as being unrelated. They believe England's final 14 can contain names that were not in their original 20.

The England assistant manager John Barclay insisted last night there had been no misunderstanding. "Our view is that we could include a name in our final squad of 14 from outside the provisional list of 20," he said. "We think that is absolutely clear, as was the case for the last World Cup four years ago. I believe South Africa and Australia hold precisely the same view.

"We have given the World Cup organisers a list of 20 names and said in an accompanying letter that our squad of 14 is likely to come from that list but not necessarily so. The reason for giving 20 names at this stage is really for the convenience of the organisers so they can prepare programmes and promotional material."

The provisional 20 are the 16 in the senior squad in South Africa plus three stand-by selections (Neil Fairbrother, Dermott Reeve and Neil Smith) and stand-by wicketkeeper Steve Rhodes. That could mean that at least four players - Devon Malcolm, John Crawley, Mark Ilott and Rhodes - have found themselves selected ahead of better one-day candidates like Headley, Hussain, de Freitas and Udal.

Kent's fast bowler Headley, said: "We were all looking forward to the three one-day matches which follow this series because we thought they would be especially relevant to World Cup selection."

l Headley picked up six for 73 as Pakistan A reached 209 for nine by tea in Rawalpindi yesterday. Headley impressed on a pitch where bowlers have little margin for error because of its slow pace. Shakeel Ahmed's 62 and his third-wicket stand of 39 with Asif Mujtaba threatened to give Pakistan A control, but Headley led the fightback, removing Shakeel before lunch.

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