May 31, 2009

England cricket

Red tape alive and well in England

Martin Williamson

The petty bureaucracy that still blights English cricket reared its ugly head again last month when Ryan Sidebottom’s comeback attempts were blocked by red tape. Recovering from a long-term injury, Sidebottom tried to test his fitness with an outing for Nottinghamshire Premier League side Plumtree, only to be turned down by league officials on the grounds that his appearance would infringe their rules governing player registration.

“I wasn’t ready for a Championship match but I was desperate for a game,” Sidebottom told the Mail on Sunday. “I did find it a bit strange that I couldn’t get a game in my own county.”

He eventually did find someone willing to allow an England international to take to the field and he played for Leek in the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire League. He said he would do so again “given the chance”.

Back down in Surrey, it took endless debates to persuade the people running the Surrey Championship that a teenager good enough to play for his country, a resident for six years and still qualified for Surrey and England, was eligible to play in their league.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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