Power proposal for Illingworth

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A recommendation for the Test and County Cricket Board to extend the powers of Ray Illingworth, the England chairman of selectors, will be put before their winter meeting at Lord's today.

In line with the South African system, there is a proposal to give Illingworth the power to overrule a county's selection of an England player who, he feels, needs a break. It would avoid a repeat of the situation last August when Darren Gough was chosen by Yorkshire for a NatWest Trophy semi-final against Northamptonshire while he was getting over a stress injury.

Bob Woolmer, the South African coach, in contrast, was able to order Allan Donald to miss the Orange Free State match against England before the second Test.

The problem for the TCCB is that England players are contracted to their county not their country, unlike the South Africans who are signed up with the United Cricket Board. It is unlikely that the counties will agree to such a radical step, although individually they may listen to Illingworth in future with more sympathy.

Meanwhile, moves to launch the English Cricket Board as a replacement for the TCCB have been put back after the TCCB had set an initial deadline of 1 January for its inception. The ECB will be discussed but the most positive action is likely to be the setting-up of a working party to investigate the ramifications of the new governing body. However, the meeting is likely to introduce changes to the domestic game.

The County Championship is almost certain to remain an 18-team structure, as opposed to a two-division competition many had called for and the Board is being asked to consider awarding prize-money as far down the table as ninth place.

It will remain a four-day competition but there is a recommendation for over-rates to be reduced from the present 110 per day for the opening three days (102 on the fourth) to 104 and 96 respectively.