Sport Steven Finn has returned to the UK from England's Tour of Australia

Finn returned home from Australia after failing to make an appearance due to concerns over his bowling technique

County cricket round-up: Goodwin's quick fix guides Sussex into semi-finals

Francois du Plessis put the holders Essex to the sword as he steered Lancashire into the semi-finals of the Friends Provident Trophy with a 71-ball century, the fastest of the English summer so far.

High farce at Headingley as new drainage system flops

One-dayer called off as £600,000 hi-tech refit fails to deal with overnight rain

Angus Fraser: Why I'm back in the game

The IPL, World Twenty20, an Ashes tour – the County Championship has fierce competition this year. But for Angus Fraser, as he takes charge of Middlesex, it's still the life and soul of cricket

On the Front Foot: Aussies in the shires? Now is the Billy Midwinter of our discontent

There have always been Australians in county cricket. They have frequently, like Stuart Clark last week, prompted a fuss. Take Billy Midwinter. WG Grace did. Born in England, Midwinter emigrated to Australia (like Darren Pattinson of more recent vintage, but that is another can of worms). He played for Australia in the first Test match of all in 1877 and became the first bowler to take five wickets in a Test innings in the Aussies' 45-run victory. Later that year, missing Gloucestershire where he was born, he became the county's first professional. But the following summer Australia were touring and Midwinter, offered oodles of cash, agreed to play for them. As they prepared to take on Middlesex at Lord's, WG Grace, the captain of Gloucestershire, stormed the dressing room and kidnapped Midwinter to play in the county's match at The Oval. He stayed awhile and toured Australia with England in 1881-82, playing four Tests. But he changed allegiance again and played another six Tests for Australia. From the 1950s on, there has been a steady flow of Australians in county cricket – the spinners Bruce Dooland and George Tribe among the first, miffed at being overlooked by the Test selectors – and recently it has turned into a flood. Thanks to the polarising acquiescence of counties, five of Australia's team in the Third Test against South Africa have played county cricket, many for several clubs. Clark has played for two counties already. Middlesex will be Phillip Hughes's first, but probably not his last. Loyalty is of no consideration, they are merely professionals being professional. They should all be welcomed as guests, but to suggest they do not hinder the development of English cricketers is folly. Perhaps they should be kidnapped.

Ashes countdown: Should England be helping the Aussies?

County cricket clubs are falling over themselves to get Australians ready for the Ashes. Good for the game, or a sure way of derailing a return to the glory days of 2005? Former England bowler, Angus Fraser, and <i>Independent</i> cricket correspondent, Stephen Brenkley, join the debate

Report could hinder Marland's ECB bid

Lord Marland of Odstock may find the past coming back to haunt him in his campaign to lead English cricket into a brave new world. Upon entering the hustings yesterday to try to unseat Giles Clarke, the present chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Lord Marland claimed the current regime had systematic problems.

De Menezes coroner rules out unlawful killing verdict

The coroner at the inquest of Jean Charles de Menezes today ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing.

The Way It Was, by Stephen Chalke

When Stephen Chalke proposed a book about 1950s cricket, publishers were united in their indifference. So he published it himself, to great acclaim. In the ensuing 11 years he has written a further 10 – two named as 'Wisden' Books of the Year – and this latest is a collection of his magazine and newspaper articles, focusing mainly on county cricket between 1946 and 1969.

Botham dusts off walking shoes

The former cricketer Sir Ian Botham will dust off his walking shoes and set off on another fundraising expedition today taking in nine towns across the UK.

Ramprakash banned for repeated swearing

Mark Ramprakash has been suspended for the first two LV County Championship matches of next season for repeatedly swearing at an umpire.

Pavilion honour for Graeme Hick

Worcestershire will honour Graeme Hick by naming the new £2m pavilion at New Road after the veteran batsman.

Father saves daughter as she is sucked along storm drain

As weekend floods claim at least eight lives, RAF sergeant out walking the family dog saves three-year-old after raging floodwater drags her 150ft along culvert and into river

Trescothick: How the 'beasts of depression' ruined Test career

Marcus Trescothick, one of England's finest cricketers, spoke for the first time yesterday of the clinical depression that forced him to abandon his international career.

Angus Fraser: A plan that threatens the fabric of the English game

The Twenty20 format proposed by the Marylebone Cricket Club, Hampshire, Lancashire and Surrey is imaginative and has some merit but it threatens the fabric of the domestic game in England. Despite what the project team state, the creation would cause an insurmountable split among the 18 first-class counties. It threatens overkill of Twenty20 cricket, a product that has achieved so much good in the six years since its inception.

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