Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy August 18, 2005

ECB disappointed with counties' protest

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Flintoff's withdrawal from the C&G Trophy game hasn't gone down well with his county © Getty Images

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has expressed its disappointment at the comments made by Jack Simmons, chairman at Lancashire, and Robin Smith, Yorkshire's chairman, who both expressed their disapproval at Duncan Fletcher's decision to rest the national players by making them unavailable for the C&G Trophy semi-finals.

The ECB had announced their intent to rest the England players through a press release titled: `Counties and sponsors rally behind England team'. The national players and the administrative officials were taken aback at the protest by the counties, and felt that the protest portrayed a lack of concern, especially since the Ashes is in the balance.

Simmons was upset that the ECB had not spoken to him first about their decision and felt that the issue could have been handled better by the board. Lancashire will be without Andrew Flintoff for their semi-final against Warwickshire on August 20. Simmons said that he was not informed of Flintoff's ankle injury until he called up a board official. The ECB's medical staff said that Flintoff sustained a minor ankle problem while bowling during the last day of the Old Trafford Test. However, Jim Cumbes, Lancashire's chief executive, has taken a different stand by supporting the ECB's decision. "Having witnessed the intensity with which the last Test was played I can fully appreciate why Duncan needs these players ready for the Trent Bridge Test match," Cumbes was quoted as saying in the board's press release.

Robin Smith, chairman at Yorkshire, said that if Yorkshire beat Hampshire in the C&G Trophy semi-final, he would oppose any moves to withdraw Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard from the final. "I accept that the circumstances in this case are exceptional," Smith was quoted as saying in The Daily Telegraph, "but in my view both counties appearing in the final can rightly expect to field their best team, which means a team including the England players." With the C&G Trophy final scheduled for September 3, five days before the fifth Test at The Oval, The ECB might have to step in again.