‘England cricketers worried about team image’

October 31st, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 31 (IANS) England’s cricketers, who are playing the Stanford Super Series in Antigua, are “extremely worried” about the image of the English team, the players’ representative says. “They are uncomfortable with a number of things,” said Sean Morris, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) Thursday.

“They feel they have been exposed to turning up to a bit of a garden party, which shouldn’t really be the case with an international team. With the lights and pitch, the game has been devalued as a contest and there is the feeling that this is not an entirely professional event.”

Morris said a majority of the England squad had requested a meeting with him Wednesday about the series, which is being bankrolled by American billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

“They accept that the event comes with strings attached, but they feel that they have been left exposed by the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] over issues like Stanford’s access to the dressing-room, which surprised them. They regard it as their place of work, a place that is normally sacrosanct.

“The access to the dressing-room and the episode with the players’ wives has exposed them to something they were not expecting,” The Times quoted him Friday as saying.

Stanford has been criticised by ex-cricketers and the press in England after being shown with the wife of wicket keeper Matt Prior seated on his lap during a match and for visiting the cricketers’ dressing room.

Stanford has apologised for the incident involving cricketers’ partners and pledged not to visit the dressing room.

Morris said England cricketers were concerned about the team image.

“They are extremely worried about the perception and whether this is good for the image of English cricket,” he said.

“The ECB’s job is to ensure that the players are not exposed to ridicule and they do not feel that they have been given adequate protection.”

However, he said the team was committed to fulfilling their contractual obligations and that the five-year deal between Stanford and the ECB will continue.

“They are just getting their heads down and they will try to win the game and get off to India [for a winter Test series],” Morris said.

Morris’s comments came after the head of Hampshire county cricket this week called for the resignation of ECB chairman David Collier over the Stanford Series.

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