ICC look at new tech to end chucking
NEW "wearable" technology is to be introduced by the ICC to settle doubts about illegal actions, a problem that still occasionally hurts cricket, especially at international development level.
The ICC announced from Dubai this week that they had entered a second phase of an agreement with a consortium of high profile Australian cricket, sports science and sports engineering institutions to test the legality of bowling actions in match and training conditions.
In the past umpires have reported doubtful actions, and players have been suspended for remedial work, but borderline cases have not been satisfactorily settled by the ICC's use of relatively crude technology. Muttiah Muralitharan in exasperation used his own 'technology' in 2004 -- a plastercast on his right arm -- to prove he could bowl his doosra and those huge off-spinners stiff-armed without a hint of a throw. This was not in the ICC street, effective though it was at silencing sceptics. The Sri Lankan achieved his turn with a strong shoulder action and double-jointed wrists. He looked as though he threw without actually doing so, hence the controversy.
The ICC have been working with experts to produce a process capable of measuring bowlers’ actions in a match environment. Known as inertial sensors, they employ similar technology to that used in iPads, mobile phones and car crash impact detection systems.
The ICC are expecting the technology to be light, cost effective and wearable on the bowler’s arm, not hindering performance while still allowing information about the throw-like features of an illegal action to be assessed in near real time in both match and training environments.
Bowlers under report for a suspicious bowling action are currently required to attend an ICC-approved biomechanics laboratory to assess the amount of elbow extension in their bowling action.
It seems as though, from the ICC news release, that the technology will eventually become widely available so that individual countries and elite centres can monitor their own players. Actions can be scrutinised and adapted without too much fuss and cost.
The research team comprises sport scientists and engineers from Griffith University’s centre for wireless monitoring and applications in Brisbane (Engineers Dr. Daniel James and Dr. Andrew Wixted), the Australian Institute of Sport’s biomechanics department in Canberra (Cricket Biomechanist Mr. Wayne Spratford) and Cricket Australia’s centre of excellence in Brisbane.
The project is being managed on behalf of the ICC by Praxis Sport Science Pty Ltd, an Australian-based sports science consultancy company headed up by Dr Marc Portus. Dr Portus was involved with the original research behind the 15 degree tolerance threshold for illegal actions when he worked as a Biomechanist for the Australian Institute of Sport and Cricket Australia.
The second phase of the three-phase project will conclude in late 2013 and is concerned with the technology’s measurement methods and precision against current laboratory protocols. In 2014 phase three will focus on making the technology more comfortable for players as well as maximising wireless data transmission and battery life.
ICC chief executive, David Richardson, said: "The ICC is keen to see this technology implemented in elite cricket and believe it will be a significant stride forward in detecting illegal bowling actions in match conditions.
"We would also like to see the technology used in training environments as a tool to help bowlers correct their flawed bowling action. We are encouraged by the progress made so far by the Australian research team and also acknowledge the MCC, who have made a significant financial contribution to the project."
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Kaneria plight reflects wider ills
THE former ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit director Ravi Sawani has this week submitted a report to the Indian cricket authorities as the result of a television 'sting' that appeared to show five players in the IPL willing to involve themselves in corruption. The affair has shown that the IPL is extremely vulnerable to manipulation in view of the enormous live television viewing figures and the wealth of the betting industry.
Sawani's report on the IPL will be discussed by the Indian Board’s disciplinary panel at roughly the same time as the ECB will be assessing a disciplinary case against Danish Kaneria, the Pakistan leg-spinner mentioned by the judge at the Mervyn Westfield trial as a corruptor during his time at Essex.
Since then, Kaneria's career has lingered under a cloud. The damage that suspicion could do to cricket was well illustrated by another corruption inquiry, this time in Karachi. Kaneria came under suspicion simply because he walked off the field with a side strain during a 20-over Super Eights match at Rawalpindi in March after bowling only four deliveries for 11 runs. His team Karachi Zebras suffered an upset defeat to Peshawar Panthers back, and an inquiry was launched when the Karachi manager later said he suspected spot-fixing and underperforming.
The accusation deflected credit from the victorious underdogs and from Riaz Afridi in particular for his four cheap wickets. Karachi City Cricket Association cleared Kaneria, though they announced after the hearing that the inquiry against other players, including former Pakistan batsman Hasan Raza, the captain, would continue.
In March a tweet made by Lalit Modi during his time as IPL commissioner, cost him £90,000 in libel damages at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and a legal bill many times that amount, even though the tweet had been seen by only 65 people. He had falsely claimed that Chris Cairns had been involved in corrupt activity, an assertion that was repeated in court and rejected by the judge as having no basis whatsoever on the evidence, but the worrying part of that case was an insight into the corruption that was going on elsewhere within the IPL.
No one needs reminding that in February this year Westfield was jailed at the Old Bailey for four months, including two months on licence, for accepting corrupt payment to underperform for Essex in a match. Last November the Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were sent to prison for various terms, guilty of cheating and accepting corrupt payments.
Another blot on cricket's integrity has been removed to prison this week. Allen Stanford, the Texan 'financier', has been sentenced to 110 years in jail for one of the biggest frauds in history. He was convicted in March on 13 of 14 charges of defrauding investors of more than £4.5 billion in a ponzi scheme. Antigua-based, he pumped funds into 20-over cricket, most notably a series involving West Indies All Stars XI against England, an underhand deal that caused a furious argument between the West Indies Board's official sponsors Digicel.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Interpol offering reality check
INTERPOL, the international policing organisation, have offered to help the ICC by taking steps to prevent organised crime from infiltrating cricket. This follows hard on the warning by the ECB this week that the domestic game in England remains vulnerable to corruption.
A cold draught has been blowing into the game since the Pakistan corruption case at Southwark Crown Court in November, when one half-expected giant screens to flash up "guilty" like a third umpire's verdict. Reality is very much upon us.
Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were sent to prison, guilty of cheating and accepting corrupt payments. Their fixer Mazhar Majeed, the classic dodgy dealer, was given the longest sentence, two years eight months, for conspiring to cheat and for making corrupt payments. This was the first time that corruption had led to more than mere suspensions by the International Cricket Council. The events in London involved not just a trudge back to the pavilion but barristers... police... prison officers... cold walls...
And now the Interpol secretary general Ronald K Noble, on a two-day tour of India, has offered an arrangement to the ICC president Sharad Pawar and Indian Cricket Board vice-president Rajiv Shukla that would give them access to Interpol intelligence, as with football. FIFA agreed a 10-year deal for almost £13,000 in May to keep tabs on global betting and to monitor the activities of suspected match-fixing syndicates. With support from FIFA, an Interpol centre in Singapore is being planned to promote 'integrity in sports'.
Noble described the meeting with Pawar and Shukla as "cordial" and "positive" and he added: "We would like to have a prevention programme put in place, when there are incidences of young players, agents and officials taking money to fix matches. We know these young players are easy targets."
One should remember that Hansie Cronje, a self-confessed crook, was never prosecuted by the South African law enforcers for spot-fixing. The issue was funked and never progressed beyond the King Commission inquiry. The Pakistan fixing case in London became a landmark when the sanction was prison.
Bearing in mind that the Southward courtroom must have witnessed many cases of violent crime, lawyers had to talk hard to show that deliberately overstepping a white line for betting purposes in 2010 was a serious offence that produced victims. The prosecution succeeded in arguing that the viewing public, especially, did not deserve to be cheated while players enriched themselves on a separate bookmakers' agenda. But was 'acting' cricket on brief occasions worth prison?
The former England batsman Geoff Boycott reckoned the authorities should lock up these people "and throw away the key". As the fixer had had the gall in court to claim Boycott as his friend -- they met in a hotel lobby once -- one could predict his fury, but it is a safe bet that his suggestion will not reach the statute book.
Mr Justice Cooke spoke of the damage to the "image and integrity" of cricket and the betrayal of followers of the game. He said he would have heavily extended the two-year six-month sentence given to Butt, the captain, as a clear deterrent if the player had not been already banned from cricket for five years.
To me, one of the sourest aspects was the conspiracy that gave Butt power. The position of the incorruptible Shahid Afridi as captain of the Test team became untenable when undermined by a nucleus of players, including a few not on trial, so that the Pakistan Board was hoodwinked into promoting Butt for the series in England last year. The jury heard how Afridi's presence made fixing very difficult and that the gang needed him out of the way. So here was one victim at least. It was not just about a white line.
Watching sport -- events that matter when they do not really matter -- requires suspension of disbelief for enjoyment. A bottle of beer thrown at a television screen by an over-emotional viewer might be the extreme example, but integrity lies at the heart of all sport. In my view athletes caught cheating with performance-enhancing drugs should be jailed just like the cricketers. The athletics and cycling authorities should have called in the police a long time ago. And they still have not. With soft suspensions the only deterrent, the moral aspect is now dreadfully distorted. The thinking has changed. To some athletes -- and to some lawyers, one imagines -- drugs are only no-go if they are officially banned. New dope is fine until the authorities update the list...
Individualistic sports such as tennis and snooker have been long vulnerable to corruption, but the advent of spot-betting on live television -- wagers on small events such as wides or no-balls during play -- has brought cricket into focus, as with football. The key problem for cricket is that there is no regulation of the biggest gambling market, India and the subcontinental region, where betting is illegal. The boom in cricket has produced a multi-billion pound bookmaking industry where no suspicious betting patterns can be detected in the way that protects above-board bookmakers. Heavy wagers on an Amir no-ball at Lord's, for example, would sound alarm bells in a regulated market outside Mumbai or Dubai.
Cricket is a quirky game built on justice while the fielding side gang up against the batsmen. Umpires make judgments, sometimes on appeal, and uphold the Laws. At international level the 'third' umpire waits in his studio, ready with cameras and infra-red detectors to adjudicate at an on-field umpire's request. When camera back-up for run-outs and stumpings began in 1992, red and green lights were used for the verdict. Red meant 'in' at first before being changed to 'out'. Almost inevitably the wrong button was once pressed by mistake, in Karachi in 1994, so that the South Africa batsman Dave Richardson was given out when he should have been in. Here was press-button injustice of the cruellest kind. But at least this was not a Crown Court.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Yardy honest about depression
THE Sussex captain Michael Yardy has disclosed he has been suffering from depression, a condition that led to his withdrawal from England's World Cup campaign before the quarter-final against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
There were two interesting aspects to the ECB announcement. Firstly Yardy was referred to as an all-rounder, a description patently wide of the mark, and secondly it was unusual that such detail of his illness was mentioned.
Yardy himself went out of his way to ensure there was no need for speculation, as his depression illness was clearly cited. "Leaving at this stage of a World Cup campaign was a very difficult decision to make, but I felt that it was the only sensible option for me, and I wanted to be honest about the reason behind that decision," he said.
The word 'honest' seemed pointed, and Yardy will avoid becoming the subject of wild rumours that blighted the departure of poor Marcus Trescothick from England's tour of India in 2006. The ECB's decision to wrap the Trescothick news with the mystery of "personal reasons" probably made his mental breakdown worse. His recovery was short-lived and led to a hasty break from the 2007 Ashes tour.
As for Yardy the ECB said that, after close consultation with their medical officers, after it was agreed that he should return home to Sussex immediately to receive the best possible advice and support. The statement added that he had been managing the condition for a "prolonged period of time".
One of the reasons for England's weak performances in the World Cup had been the use of Yardy as a bowler, something he rarely did at county level. His left-arm darts, a useful variation on occasions, fell well short of 'full-time' pedigree, and his batting in the middle order suffered as well. One can only imagine the stress on Yardy, a whole-hearted cricketer with many admirers. He would not regard himself as an all-rounder. The introduction into the side of James Tredwell, the specialist Kent off-spinner, made an immediate impact -- he was man of the match against the West Indies.
Yady said after his return to England: "I would appreciate some privacy over the coming weeks while I spend time with family and close friends ahead of what I hope will be a successful season for Sussex."
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Skipton real ale strong on appeal
THE Skipton brewery Copper Dragon are producing another real ale brand with a cricket theme to build on the popularity of Fred Trueman Ale, named in the memory of the England fast bowler and launched a year ago in the north and midlands.
Fred Trueman is to be made available on draft, and the same hoppy amber brew will be sold under the name of Owzat outside the Trueman heartlands. Success in the World Cup for England over the next month would only improve the beer's prospects.
Copper Dragon's managing director Steve Taylor said that the four per cent strength Fred Trueman Ale, launched as a limited edition by Dickie Bird MBE, had been very popular in Yorkshire, given Fiery Fred’s close links and love of the region. "We’ve decided that the same ale will also be sold under the name of Owzat," he said, "so that real ale drinkers without the generational or geographical affinity to Fred Trueman will have a choice as to what they order.
"It’s the first of five limited edition hand crafted ales that Copper Dragon will be launching in 2011, with the next creation currently being developed with a view to launching in May. It’s a perfect time to re-introduce the cricket theme after England’s impressive Ashes victory Down Under."
Established as recently as 2002, Copper Dragon supplies hand crafted Best Bitter, Golden Pippin, Scots 1816, Challenger IPA and Black Gold cask ales to over 2,000 pubs throughout the UK
In 2008 Marston's renamed one of their best beers 'Old Umpire' from Old Empire to mark the summer of Test cricket. Pints were tasted and approved by the ECB first class umpires, who visited the brewery in Burton during a pre-season training course.
Old Umpire was an extremely high-quality brew, 5.7 per cent golden coloured beer with a flavour described by the makers as "a tempting aroma of biscuity malt, floral hops, vanilla and toffee, with hints of citrus fruit, brewed in the style of an Indian Pale Ale." If Owzat can match the flavour, drinkers with cricket affinity will be well servved.
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Ponting rants for subdued Australia
THE futility of Ricky Ponting's argument with the umpires on the second day of the fourth Test in Melbourne was clear. Australia's captain did not seem to know that the burden of proof rested with the referring party for the third umpire to overturn an on-field decison.
Only wicketkeeper Brad Haddin seemed to think there had been a nick off Kevin Pietersen's inside edge. The slips suspected nothing and the bowler Ryan Harris did not appeal. Yet when Hot Spot and the other electronic gadgetry detected nothing, as expected, Ponting claimed there had been a mistake.
England were taking a grip on the game, and the foul-mouthers were exposed as piss and wind. Peter Siddle escaped Cricket Australia censure for his cowardly 'send-off' abuse of Matt Prior after his dismissal in Perth, where Mitchell Johnson's sledging antics went close to unacceptable. So what were the bully boy posers saying while England built up a huge first-innings lead in Melbourne? They were quieter.
Siddle, the only Aussie success in the match at this stage, decided to project his personality to the umpires after the Pietersen decision before Ponting argued long and hard and later copped a heavy fine from the ICC after umpires Aleem Dar and Tony Hill reported him for breaching the Code of Conduct forbidding players from "arguing or entering into a prolonged discussion with the umpire about his decision".
The ICC said in a statement: "Ponting pleaded guilty to the charge, and as such under the provisions of the code the matter was determined by Ranjan Madugalle of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC match referee without the need for a full hearing. The match referee imposed a fine equivalent to 40 per cent of the player’s match fee."
Explaining his decision, Madugalle said: "Ricky’s actions as captain of his country were unacceptable. A captain is expected to set the example and not get involved in a prolonged discussion with the on-field umpires and question their decision.
"While pleading guilty to the charge, Ricky understood that the discussion went far too long. He apologised for his action and stated that he has nothing but respect for the umpires and that his on-field actions were not intended to show disrespect to Aleem Dar or Tony Hill."
Australian cricket, post Warne and McGrath, is in a dreadful state -- there is little pedigree among the upper order batsmen apart from Ponting and no decent spinner in the country. The pace bowling looked no better than workmanlike on Melbourne's flat pitch. Nevertheless a drawn series remained possible with the final Test at Sydney to play, an outcome against this shower that would reflect poorly on English cricket, Ashes or not.
Posted by Charlie Randall
England must drop jaded Finn
THE difference between the two Ashes sides was never as wide as the chasm suggested by Australia's trouncing at Adelaide. In the Pom euphoria it was forgotten that England's suspect batting had flopped in the opening Test at Brisbane in the crucial first innings.
The batting failed again in the third Test at Perth, though this time in my view the bowlers let England down. The seam attack could not summon up the inspiration and consistency that Mitchell Johnson and his colleagues showed. And poor Steve Finn endured a nightmare, looking every bit the rookie.
These were near-perfect conditions for pace bowling at Perth, and yet Finn produced figures of 15-1-86-2 and 21-4-97-3 -- simply not good enough. In fact he looked jaded and his form was disastrous -- pitching consistently too short. That is a tough call on a young bowler with great potential, but it has to be said. The more accurate Tim Bresnan would almost certainly have been have been more effective, with the benefit of hindsight.
If England insist on picking only three seam bowlers for the fourth Test at Melbourne, the selectors should replace Finn with Bresnan to ease the pressure on James Anderson and Chris Tremlett. Not surprisingly Adelaide proved not to be the apocalypse that the Aussie media seemed to think. Selection and match strategy at Perth was spot-nn.
Finn appeared in the provisional 30 players announced by England this weekend for the World Cup on the subcontinent. He will not be included in the final reduced squad of 15 names by January 19, and there seems little room for new blood. Samit Patel has been brought back into the reckoning after his humilating exclusion from the one-day squad in 2009 for being 'too fat' -- the ECB used physiology language that avoided the word 'fat'.
The England Lions have eight players on the list in their squad set to tour the West Indies in January, February and March, but one or two at most are likely to make the World Cup. Ravi Bopara would be a choice, though I would regard Chris Woakes as a realistic candidate.
England have been drawn in a group with Bangladesh, India, Ireland, Holland, South Africa and West Indies. They are due to play two warm-up games against Canada and Pakistan before beginning their World Cup campaign in India on February 22 against Holland at Nagpur.
Provisional England World Cup squad
1. Andrew Strauss (Middlesex, captain)
2. James Adams (Hampshire)
3. James Anderson (Lancashire)
4. Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
5. Ravi Bopara (Essex)
6. Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire)
7. Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)
8. Paul Collingwood (Durham)
9. Alastair Cook (Essex)
10. Steven Davies (Surrey)
11. Jade Dernbach (Surrey)
12. Steven Finn (Middlesex)
13. James Hildreth (Somerset)
14. Craig Kieswetter (Somerset)
15. Michael Lumb (Hampshire)
16. Eoin Morgan (Middlesex)
17. Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire)
18. Kevin Pietersen (Surrey)
19. Liam Plunkett (Durham)
20. Matt Prior (Sussex)
21. Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
22. Ajmal Shahzad (Yorkshire)
23. Darren Stevens (Kent)
24. Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)
25. James Tredwell (Kent)
26. Chris Tremlett (Surrey)
27. Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
28. Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)
29. Luke Wright (Sussex)
30. Michael Yardy (Sussex)
Posted by Charlie Randall
Lions can look back to Moores era
ENGLAND have announced a Lions party to tour the West Indies for two months as part of the first class championship after a gap of exactly 10 years, when Peter Moores was the coach.
James Hildreth has been made captain of a group of players rich in promise, with the coach still to be confirmed. They leave on January 24 and are due to play all the Caribbean first class regions. In 2001 England A experienced a testing programme of four-day cricket under Mark Alleyne, a revolutionary idea designed to heighten interest in West Indian cricket as much as to educate England players.
The only drawback was that England A lacked form in the batting, and most of the players on that tour only flirted with the international fringes. In fact a knee ligament injury during beach volleyball virtually ended David Sales's hopes of playing Test cricket.
James Foster and Chris Read were two top-rate wicketkeepers, perhaps the highlight of the tour. Ian Ward's long occupation of the crease -- hastening brief Test elevation -- and Graeme Swann's attempt to catch the eye were interesting features. Moores was outstanding as coach, putting himself on the ladder to the top job. The ECB should appoint a person they consider could guide Test cricketers in the future because this Caribbean schedule is very demanding.
in 2001 Swann paraded a remodelled action that set his career back until he reverted to his 'windmill' style after this tour. He finished as second-best spinner behind Chris Schofield... John Crawley's attempt to break back into Test cricket through heavy scoring did not succeed. Crowds did not flock to the matches, though 8,000 turned up on the first day at the Bourda, where England lost to Guyana.
The 2010 tourists seem to have more players with better prospects, most notably Steve Finn, James Harris, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Ravi Bopara and Chris Woakes (replacing Finn for the second half of the trip). Hildreth might possibly have missed the boat for Test recognition, but this Caribbean challenge should provide a measure of character. As captain he does not have to worry about whether he gets an innings or not. Batting, as in 2001, could be the main headache.
The itinerary is due to be announced later.
James Hildreth (Somerset, captain)
Jimmy Adams (Hampshire)
Adam Lyth (Yorkshire)
James Taylor (Leicestershire)
Ravi Bopara (Essex)
Andrew Gale (Yorkshire)
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
Ben Stokes (Durham)
Chris Woakes (Warwickshire) (second half of tour only)
Craig Kieswetter (Somerset)
Liam Plunkett (Durham)
Maurice Chambers (Essex)
Danny Briggs (Hampshire)
Steve Finn (Middlesex) (first half of tour only)
James Harris (Glamorgan)
Jade Dernbach (Surrey)
Posted by Charlie Randall
Fielding collision -- and broken leg
THERE is nothing that legislation or equipment can do to prevent serious accidents in the deep field. Kyle Wilson has become the latest player to suffer at first class level, breaking his leg during a one-day match in Johannesburg.
Wilson, 21, in his first season with Border, was fielding in the CSA Provincial one-dayer against Gauteng at the ABSA Oval on November 28 and collided with team-mate Lucky Pangabantu as they sprinted for Pieter van Zyl's lofted straight drive, converging from long-on and long-off with eyes only on the ball. Play was held up for several minutes after this incident.
The best known, and more serious, collision occurred at Kandy in 1999 during the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia when Steve Waugh's face met Jason Gillespie's leg at deep square leg as they both raced for a catch from Mahela Jayawardena's sweep shot.
The collision was so violent Waugh felt he was lucky not to have broken his neck, escaping with wrecked nose. Gillespie broke his left wrist and right leg, both players having to be airlifted to hospital.
CHARLIE SAYS: It has happened to me in a Radlett club match in the 1970s, running full tilt for a lofted straight drive from long-off. The converging collision with the Herts fast bowler Nick Draper came as a shock I still remember to this day. My shoulder hit his sternum and he was severely winded, when the incident could have been far worse for either of us.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Epps book bought for £150,000-plus
AN anonymous buyer has paid a stunning £151,250 for a single edition of William Epps’s Cricket. A Collection of All the Grand Matches played in England from 1771 to 1791
. The price, a record for one cricket book, more than doubled the experts' prediction when the tome was auctioned at Christie's on November 17.
Published in Rochester in 1799, Epps's book was considered by many as the most important historical publication on cricket in the later 18th century. It was intended to supplement the publications of Samuel Britcher, which ran from 1790 to 1805, and was compiled from the manuscripts of noblemen such as the Duke of Dorset and Earl of Tankerville.
Not even the British Library holds a copy, and the MCC, who sold off a list of items for £685,225, possessed two copies before the auction.
The painting called The Young Cricketer – Portrait of Lewis Cage
by Katharine Lloyd, was sold for £28,750 at well above the eestimated price of £4,000-6,000. This charming portrait, having hung in the Pavilion at Lord’s for the past 60 years, is after an original by Francis Cotes RA and was commissioned to coincide with the opening of the Lord’s Museum in the 1950s. MCC offered the painting following the acquisition of the original portrait.
Other highlights from the auction included Samuel Britcher's A Complete List of All the Grand Matches of Cricket
in the Year 1793
, selling at £55,250. Britcher was an official scorer for Marylebone Cricket Club, and the first person to produce an annual scorebook on a regular basis. MCC recently secured a seemingly unique volume of his work, which means that the club now owns the only complete series of his scores.
Adam Chadwick, curator of collections at MCC, said: `MCC is delighted with the results of the sale. All lots offered at Christie’s were duplicate items from the MCC collections and the considerable funds realised will be dedicated to future acquisitions as the club seeks to broaden and strengthen what is the world’s finest museum, library and archive devoted to cricket.’
Posted by Charlie Randall