<
>

Burns' beanie poll concludes Siddle's headgear was "average bants"

Peter Siddle protects himself against the cold Getty Images

Beanies have become part of a county cricketer's standard issue training kit but Surrey's new captain Rory Burns decided to run a Twitter poll on whether they should be worn in first-class cricket after Essex's shivering Australian Peter Siddle bowled in one during the championship match against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.

"People's thoughts on wearing beanies in a first-class fixture," asked Burns who then gave his followers the option of voting for Yer All For It or Average Bant.

The Average Bants have it, polling two-thirds of the vote.

Responses to Burns' tweet included suggestions that only an Australian overseas player would imagine he could get away with it. If the Aussies think the ball-tampering was bad enough, wait until the outcry about beanie hats reaches full volume.

****

Wasim Khan, the latest man to be given the unenviable task of trying to produce a coherent County Championship structure, has promised to consult with county supporters before making any changes to the competition.

Khan, the Leicestershire chief executive and former Warwickshire, Sussex and Derbyshire batsman, has been appointed chairman of an 11-strong working party which includes representatives from the ECB, PCA and three county directors of cricket.

Scrutiny of the two-division championship and replacing it with a conference system, and the current banishing of the Championship to the start and end of the season, are among the issues the group will consider before reporting to the ECB cricket committee in the autumn.

"We are not going to have all the answers in that room. We are going to canvass a lot of different opinions in between our meetings," Khan said.

"County members, supporters and the media need to have a say. A lot of them are very knowledgeable, they watch a lot of county cricket and we need to listen to their views.

"We have to find a way of doing it in a co-ordinated fashion, how we disseminate the information we get, and draw out the critical themes.

"There will be people who will be unhappy with wherever we get to, there are others who think it will be a step forward, but that's the nature of doing this type of piece of work.

"As chair of this group I understand that. But we will try to go wider than this group. It's not just going to be representative of the 11 views in that room."

****

Steve Rhodes may have been sacked as Worcestershire's director of cricket during the winter but the former England wicketkeeper continues to support his adopted county.

Rhodes attended both of Worcestershire's County Championship matches at Southampton and Taunton to watch his son George play for the county and he was at New Road on Friday for what should have been the opening day against Nottinghamshire.

Rhodes was dismissed in December after a 33-year involvement with Worcestershire as player and coach for not informing the board that all-rounder Alex Hepburn was being investigated by police for an alleged rape offence.

Hepburn, who was charged in November, remains suspended on full pay but is not expected to play any cricket this summer. His trial has been listed for January.

****

England cricketer sleeps with bishop and politician sounds like a lurid tabloid headline but it happened last week and it was all for a good cause.

The cricketer is Ashley Giles, now Warwickshire sports director, the bishop the Right Reverend David Urquhart, who heads the Birmingham diocese, and the politician Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Ladywood, who were among 70 volunteers who spent a night sleeping rough at Edgbaston.

It was the second time Giles had taken part in the sleep-out which has so far raised more than 20,000 for two Birmingham homeless charities, St Basils and Winter Night Shelter.

"It was colder than last year and I didn't get much sleep. But it was only for one night and we were in a stadium with security staff," Giles said.

"There are lots of people out there who are sleeping rough night after night under bridges and in other places where they are vulnerable.

"We doubled the number of volunteers this year and we have raised awareness of the issue of homelessness and a decent amount of money."

****

Tom Abell must feel he has come through the greatest test of his life as he skippers a Somerset side that has made a winning start to the Championship season.

There were times last year that his elevation to the role of Somerset's Championship skipper looked a cruel imposition as his form dwindled so badly he was dropped and Somerset's relegation looked an odds-on bet. But Abell returned and Somerset clung to their Division One status with victory in their final game. After a winter's reflection, he has begun 2018 with runs and wickets and two successive victories have left Somerset second in the table.

He does not have to look too far these days to read that he is "an impressive young man" and his experience of some though times should leave him better prepared to handle the praise.

****

Tony 'Corporal' Kingston, Northamptonshire's scorer is celebrating 40 years with the county.

Kingston, an inveterate tea drinker who boasts the largest tea cup in first-class cricket, is the longest-serving county scorer and a popular figure on the circuit because of his impish sense of humour.

He acquired his nickname at a meeting of county scorers with Simon Pack, then the ECB's international teams' director, who introduced himself to the gathering as Major-General Simon Pack, Royal Marines.

"Corporal Kingston, RASC," said Kingston when he addressed Pack. "What does that stand for Kingo?" asked another scorer. "Run Away Somebody's Coming," replied Kingston.

Kingston, who first watched cricket at Wantage Road in 1948, began his long association with Northamptonshire as umpire for the county colts side and has been their first team scorer since 1990.