Captain gracious

Cricket needs the right men on the field if it is to retain its reputation for straight dealing, for just beyond the boundary there are dark deeds afoot. Nothing that has happened since the excellent World Cup has allayed my fears about the game's future, writes Ted Corbett.

Call me sentimental, or old-fashioned, or even soppy but I did enjoy reading about a curious event which took place on the Headingley Carnegie ground recently.

Chris Read of Nottinghamshire — an England reject because he believes that he is the best judge of what is right and wrong in his own game — thought he was out caught and, being a cricketer out of another era, walked off.

In fact the ball had been dropped but the Yorkshire fielders had the bails off in no time and poor Read was given out. Run out, in fact.

At this point Andrew Gale, the young Yorkshire captain, withdrew the appeal and Read returned to the crease and led the way to an astonishing Notts victory after he and Stephen Mullaney put on 150 for the seventh wicket and Yorkshire were bowled out for 86 in 30 overs.

There are not many examples of a captain recalling a batsman — and even fewer of the result being so devastating — but I did see Ian Botham brought back in Adelaide in 1982 after the South Australian captain David Hookes agreed with him that the ball had been caught off his boot.

At a time when cricket is in a lot of trouble it is good to see such ancient ideals as fair play being remembered and Gale, who is being considered as a Test batsman and a long way in the future as Test captain, has done his chances of a bright career no harm at all by this single action.

He has only been in charge at Headingley for one season but good reports of his leadership are everywhere and in a world in which change for its own sake seems to be the rule he ought to get himself measured for an England blazer soon.

Cricket needs the right men on the field if it is to retain its reputation for straight dealing for just beyond the boundary there are dark deeds afoot. Nothing that has happened since the excellent World Cup has allayed my fears about the game's future.

It seems to be heading downhill at high speed towards a precipice not least because its leaders appear to be incapable of understanding that we are already deep inside the 21st century while they are abiding by the rules that were designed for another age.

For instance it has been clear to anyone with more than one eye that India is now the leading power in cricket but I hear on all sides that this is a temporary blip and that winning a 50-over competition means nothing while the IPL is some sort of aberration that will soon be forgotten.

India has the money, the ideas and many of the greatest players yet in the heads of many of the older nations there is an appalling reluctance to accept that the game can be ruled from anywhere except Lord's or Dubai.

Test cricket, such folk parrot every day, is the only true examination. We can forget about limited overs cricket; it means nothing. They say.

It is also a concern that authority — if that is the right word to describe the ways of ICC — seem reluctant to embrace new technology which is being introduced a bit at a time leaving the spectators, players and umpires wondering.

The Chris Reads and Adam Gilchrists — both wicket-keepers by the way which may raise an eyebrow or two among those of us who have been defrauded by nasty crooks wearing the pads and gloves — are rare creatures and there are certainly not enough to save the game from employing computer technology in the future.

ICC still have to solve all the problems caused by the attack on the convoy of vehicles heading towards a Test match in Pakistan and cannot be happy that from time to time the blight of match fixing, spot fixing and good old bribery and corruption raises its head.

It is no good the smug and self-satisfied saying that at least cricket does not have the problems of football in which players regularly swear at referees and a Scottish coach was sent a bomb to remind him — as if any Scottish footballer needed such an aide memoire — that matches between the Protestant Rangers and the Catholic Celtic take place in grounds that have become nature reserves for religious zealots.

Cricket needs to take a long hard look at its own standing in the eyes of the sporting world. Footballers who need the legal profession to take out what have become known as super injunctions to stop publication of their underhand dealings have nothing to be proud of admittedly.

The football stars, loved by millions and paid millions, give their lawyers around £20,000 a time to persuade judges to stop the papers writing about them and their short term girl friends. I suspect that it is only the fact that cricketers are paid much less that means they are not also queuing for super injunctions.

Even the dumbest blonde needs little time to decide between a centre-half with £12m a year in his wage packet, a mansion and a Bentley and a cricketer earning £1000 a week.

Perhaps the cricketers should think themselves lucky that men like Andrew Gale can still tell the difference between right and wrong and that men like Chris Read can still offers thanks for the favour while taking advantage of their good fortune.