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Call for clean-up in cricket

LONDON, March 12 (AFP) - England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Lord MacLaurin on Monday called on the International Cricket Council to clean up the game following the farcical events that have unfolded in Sri Lanka.

Nasser Hussain's England levelled the three-Test series at 1-1 in Kandy on Sunday but despite some thrilling cricket the first two Tests have been overshadowed by incessant appealing and a catalogue of poor umpiring decisions.

ECB chief MacLaurin flies out to Colombo on Wednesday ahead of the deciding Test and he will be holding talks with chairman of selectors David Graveney, England coach Duncan Fletcher and skipper Hussain to discuss the best way forward.

Following last summer's damaging revelations about corruption within the game - most notably South Africa captain Hansie Cronje was found guilty of receiving money from bookmakers in exchange for information - MacLaurin insists now is the time for world cricket chiefs to put their house in order.

"I have no doubts at all about that," MacLaurin told BBC Radio 5 Live. "We've had the corruption situation this year, we've now had the unsavoury situation that transpired in Kandy.

"But I'm delighted that both captains said at the end of the game that certain things happened here that we regret and we've got to get our act together because if the players say that they have a certain share of the responsibility."

MacLaurin said that the ICC have already put in motion moves to ensure that eight professional umpires would be contracted the council and that no home umpires would stand in future Test matches.

"That is something that the chief executive of the ICC Tim Lamb and myself will be urging the ICC to bring forward on the agenda because I think this should happen sooner rather than later.

"We should also look and see how we can use technology sensibly - we don't want to slow the game down - but we have to get our decisions better."

MacLaurin conceded that there is no formal training for umpires, but defended the quality of match officials in this country.

"We probably in this country have the best umpires in the world because our umpires stand in the professional county cricket for five months of the year.

"We get them from past players basically, but not always, some people can come through the ranks, but most of our umpires are ex-first class players."

MacLaurin confirmed that he will be contacting ICC president Malcolm Gray and ICC chief executive David Richards today "to see how we can train our umpires better and educate them better so we get a much more professional operation than we quite clearly have at the moment."

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