Don't allow cricket to keep it in the family

CARLTON skipper Cedric English has called on Scottish cricket to put its house in order by removing an anomaly that threatens to undermine the game's credibility.

Midway through the Edinburgh side's ultimately unsuccessful attempt to overhaul a Greenock target of 223 at Grange Loan on Saturday – they eventually lost by a massive 111 runs – a situation believed to be rare if not unique in Scottish sport occurred.

Bowling to Peter Swan, the Carlton No.7 batsman, Greenock's Dougie Wylie gave rent to an lbw appeal ... which was upheld by his umpire father, Mac.

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Rightly, English insists that such a scenario reflects badly on only one source – the game's administrators while refusing to criticise the dismissal that brought the issue into the public domain.

"To have a situation where a father is umpiring his son in a top-flight area of Scottish sport – the Lloyd's TSB Premiership is the best the game is played at domestically – is pretty unique," said English.

Rounding on officialdom, the former Scotland all-rounder made it clear the image of cricket north of the border was at stake, at least compared to other sports.

"It is something that should have been dealt with at a high level so people are not put in this kind of position," said English.

With Swan gone for 11 and Carlton 52-6 the contest was effectively over.

English said: "We wouldn't have been allowed to play with our club umpire, Martin Flynn, standing, so why is this allowed?

"It is just not fair on anyone, particularly the umpire or any player."

Referring to how cricket stood to be mocked in some quarters, English said: "It's not right because afterwards people are talking about this and they shouldn't be."

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Ironically illustrating that point, English added: "When I saw Mac Wylie walk through the door of our club before the start of play I thought 'this is interesting'."

If English was unequivocal that a father-son situation on the umpiring front should never have been allowed to arise, he was equally forthright in assessing a Carlton performance that was below par in being all out for 112 in just 34 overs of their reply to Greenock's 223-7 after being inserted.

"What we have to take out of this is that we must finish strongly in our remaining three games to see us through what will be a long winter in better spirits."

Defending a decision to promote Charles Leggett, normally a tail-ender, to open the innings, English alluded to the fact his side were without Fraser Watts (Scotland duty) and Bryn Lockie (unavailable).

"Charles has the technique to be able to open and, crucially, wants to do it. We discussed it at length and I decided it was better to open with Charles rather than disturb the structure of our middle-order.

"Others have been tried and this was a ploy worth taking, except Greenock were to bowl particularly well."

Such a view was reinforced by statistics that showed Craig Wright bowled 10 overs straight through – half of which were maidens – finishing with 2-10, while Sean Weeraratna had 3-31 off seven overs.

As for Dougie Wylie – who, like his father, found himself unwittingly at the centre of controversy to which absolutely no stigma should be attached, he contributed a handsome return of 4-19 off eight overs. Earlier, Peter Wooden had been the pick of Carlton's bowlers with 3-33, though it was Steve Gilmour who took the main scalp – his towering return catch dismissed pro Tim McIntosh for 84.

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"Having put them in we allowed Greenock about 60 more runs than they should have got.

"No excuses, but we are a better side than we showed and this will hopefully be a kick up the backside for the remainder of the season," said English of a defeat which ends any lingering title hopes.

Wooden had the best Carlton bowling figures and the Aussie professional top also scored with 37 not out from No.3.

With wickets falling consistently at the other end, this was a day when he had clearly decided he needed to drop anchor. Despite almost batting throughout, the only Carlton boundaries came at the top and bottom of the innings from Jamie Kerr and Mo Afzal respectively.

Only a last wicket partnership of 26 between Ally Evans (10) and Wooden took Carlton past three figures .

It was hard to escape the conclusion that Greenock had been able to exploit the fact that the third placed hosts were in a "must win" situation in terms of their title hopes.

This was confirmed by Greenock star Weeraratna, who, in rounding off a week which had seen him take six wickets for Scotland in a European Championship tie.

He said: "We knew we needed to win to keep the pressure on the only team above us, Grange, but for Carlton they knew it would be a two-horse race if they lost, and they tensed up."

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Modestly playing down his own contribution, Weeraratna added: "One of the differences was Craig Wright bowling a great set, and it always an advantage being able to attack at the other end from him."