Sports Letters

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Red card calls

Sir: The declining quality of commentating reached its nadir during the World Cup when the standard (especially on ITV) became, frankly, abysmal. I propose a new system that will entail a "commentating referee", who will give out yellow and red cards for various misdemeanours:

Cricket: each time the Test commentators venture off the subject of cricket on to, say, sheep dipping, they should be penalised.

Football: when the commentator shows no understanding of simple pronunciation techniques or inappropriate patriotism, he should also be reprimanded.

If commentators receive two yellows, or a straight red, they should be substituted by the producers immediately. This would enable more people to watch sport with the sound turned on.

DAVID WEBB (age 13)

Streatham, London

MCC members

Sir: My late father was, and my four brothers are, keen cricketers. My mother eschewed sports but I embraced them. At the ripe age of 28 I have, perhaps, peaked as a spin bowler and am but an average batsman. I play for a local, friendly team where I am accepted as an "honorary" man.

Growing up in a male-dominated household, the activities and bawdy talk of the changing-room did not faze me. While I cannot imagine that the delicate flowers of the Barbara Cartland persuasion would ever wish to be members of the MCC, some women do. I am a size 12, wear make up, am heterosexual, non-radical and non-hirsute. I hope that the members of the MCC will allow me to join them, preferably before I reach retirement age.


Woking, Surrey

Spin sinner

Sir: Excuses, excuses, yet again. Whenever the England cricket team performs badly (very often in the past 12 years) there is an excuse. This time it is the legitimacy of Muttiah Muralitharan's action, questioned by David Lloyd. With a string of Test series defeats and the inability to elevate England to parity with all other Test-playing nations, Lloyd is quick to pass judgement on a spin bowling sensation.

He should admit that England's batsmen lack the talent to counter such spin and England's spinners the ability to spin the ball. Lloyd should learn from Muralitharan about the art of off-spin and not to criticise his efforts.


Dyce, Aberdeen

Sir: We were dismayed to hear David Lloyd's ill-judged comments about the bowling action of Muttiah Muralitharan. The Sri Lankan has been harassed by an Australian umpire and scrutinised by the International Cricket Council. His action has been ruled legitimate, and he has demonstrated that he is, as England's captain, Alec Stewart, has said, a class above any other off-spin bowler in the world.

For two decades, Sri Lanka's Test cricketers have borne England's patronising attitude with good humour, letting their charm and skill on the field speak for them. They are world champions at the one-day game, and have proved themselves able to take on the world at the five-day game. Next time they grace this country with a Test tour, let them have three or five matches, and let Mr Lloyd keep his sour-grape flavoured prejudice to himself.


London SE26

Sir: The reaction of David Lloyd to magnificent Muralitharan's memorable performance was most unfortunate and is not cricket at all. I do not think he should continue to coach the England side. He should be given the red card promptly.