Illingworth may face disciplinary action

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The Independent Online
Ray Illingworth faces a possible reprimand and fine from the Test and County Cricket Board following an official complaint by Derbyshire over comments made by England's chairman of selectors about Devon Malcolm.

The comments appear in Illingworth's autobiography, an extract from which appeared in a national newspaper yesterday. In the book Illingworth responds to claims by Malcolm that he had sworn at the England and Derbyshire fast bowler and undermined his confidence during the tour of South Africa last winter. Malcolm was severely reprimanded by the TCCB for a series of newspaper articles during the winter in which the player made his claims.

In his book, Illingworth denies Malcolm's claims and insists that he had only been trying to improve him as a bowler. "I honestly don't think I could have done any more," he writes. "I admit I failed with Malcolm but so has every man in the England set-up over the past seven years. I tried everything from talking quietly to coaxing and then the odd bollocking."

He denies that the England management had tried to change Malcolm's action and is severely critical of his performance in the final Test. In particular, he criticises Malcolm for bowling "only one proper bouncer" at Paul Adams, South Africa's No 11, when he had been "ordered to pepper him".

Illingworth will have to wait an unspecified amount of time before he discovers what punishment - if any - will be meted out to him by the disciplinary committee. In a statement issued last night, the TCCB said that the contents of the book will be drawn to the attention of the disciplinary committee, chaired by Gerard Elias QC, the Glamorgan vice-chairman.

It is not merely the content that is bothering Lord's, but also the fact that Illingworth went ahead with the book while still under contract to the TCCB, who are reported to be upset that Illingworth did not let them see a draft of his opus. Unlike players and umpires, Illingworth, as chairman, is not required to submit any book or article for the TCCB's approval prior to publication. It is assumed that he can regulate himself. But once it is in print, he becomes subject to the Board's regulations.

A defiant Illingworth said last night: "If people are thinking there is a case to answer then I'm prepared to answer it. I don't think I've slagged anyone off. I think I've been fair. Let people read the book properly first.

"I have used my right of reply to Devon, which I have not had up to now. I'm a little bit sad about the timing of it. The book was due to come out at the end of last year initially, but we got it put back to this summer. The publishers didn't want to wait until after I'd finished. And they have a right to publish it whenever they want."

One leading county administrator in the shires said last night: "We are trying to make a clean, fresh start and to have the spotlight back on Raymond Illingworth is not going to do anyone any good. It's bound to make him defensive and that doesn't help anyone when we are trying to be positive and trying to go forward."

It has been an unhappy time for Illingworth. After a woeful winter in South Africa, followed by the World Cup misery, English cricket was looking for a new start for this summer. But then came the elections for England selectors, with David Graveney initially standing against Illingworth and the counties failing to vote for those who were understood to be the chairman's preferred candidates.

Illingworth's book, One Man Committee, is due to be published on 13 June. To underline the growing tendency of publishers to adjust the timing of the appearance of their books, there is another contentious tome awaiting the arrival of the Pakistan tourists later this summer.

But, as one leading London publisher said yesterday: "They are being totally commercial. They will have paid Illingworth and Jack Bannister a fairly hefty advance and need to recoup that, and hopefully more, as quickly as possible."

n Warwickshire have been forced to change the pitch for England's first Test against India next month because of problems with uneven grass growth.

Tim de Lisle, page 28