Gatting steps in for Gooch

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The Independent Online
Graham Gooch yesterday pulled out of England A's forthcoming tour to Australia. The former England and Essex captain, who was due to coach the 15-strong party on their seven-week tour which starts on 23 October, withdrew because of his father's ill-health.

He has been replaced by Mike Gatting of Middlesex, another former England captain who will work alongside the manager, David Graveney.

Tim Lamb, the Test And County Cricket Board's chief executive elect, said last night: "Obviously it is unfortunate for Graham, but we are lucky to have someone to take his place of similar calibre and international experience."

Gooch was forced to retire unbeaten on 170 during Essex's final Championship match of the season, against Glamorgan at Chelmsford last month, to visit his father in hospital.

Lancashire have come under fire from members who are angry at the team's disastrous Championship showing last season. The club completed a Benson and Hedges Cup and NatWest Trophy double but have not won the Championship outright since 1934 and finished 15th in 1996 - their worst finish of the decade.

At a club meeting on Tuesday, members accused the players of not showing full commitment and demanded a better standard of pitch at Old Trafford to help produce results. But the club chairman, Bob Bennett, said: "This committee runs this club and the members voted us in - and we will continue to do the job our way."

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