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Fletcher head injury leads to increased medical presence

Luke Fletcher is helped from the field after being struck by the ball Getty Images

The ECB has increased its funding for equipment and support for county medical staff to improve the care for players and umpires who suffer serious on-field injuries.

Last season Nottinghamshire's Luke Fletcher was badly concussed after he was struck on the crown of the head by a fierce return drive from Warwickshire's Sam Hain during a T20 match, an injury that forced Fletcher to miss the second half of season.

Although Fletcher received prompt attention from physiotherapists and doctors at Edgbaston, the same level of medical care would not have been available had he suffered the injury in a County Championship or second team match, as no doctor or paramedic team would have been in attendance.

The ECB's emergency care committee have responded by requiring counties to have two advanced life support physiotherapists present at every county first team and second team match and have provided additional funding to cover the costs.

Each physiotherapist has been provided with a resuscitation bag and every county's medical plan was assessed by a life support practitioner and an accident and emergency consultant during a series of pre-season meetings.

"One area of risk we identified is that Second XI matches are often played at grounds in relatively remote locations, without the normal medical facilities, and they can be difficult for ambulances to find," Nick Peirce, the ECB's chief medical officer, said.

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Cricket's lawmakers have given their tacit approval to the ECB's plans for a 100-ball franchise competition even though the proposal to introduce ten-ball overs would contravene Law 17, which stipulates that an over should consist of only six balls.

MCC, which will host one of the eight new franchises at Lord's, has said it does not have the authority to prevent the ECB introducing variations to the Laws.

"We have been consulted about the variation to Law 17 and have advised ECB that, if they wish to introduce the ten-ball over, they would need to create a Playing Regulation to make it possible," Guy Lavender, MCC chief executive, said.

"We have yet to engage in a proper discussion as a club in regard to the new 100-ball format though we know there will be a range of differing views. We are supportive of changes to the game which attract a new audience to cricket and we want Lord's to be at the forefront of the new competition.

"Whilst MCC owns and writes the Laws of Cricket, it is not within the club's remit to say that a governing body, or any other official entity, is not allowed to play a specific variation."

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Ian Lomax, the editor of Lancashire's new fanzine Not The Spin remains banned from Old Trafford but not from grounds the Red Rose county are visiting.

Lomax, who has crossed swords with county officials in the past through his involvement in the Lancashire Action Group (LAG), was at Chelmsford over the weekend where he took advantage of the publicity his ban has generated to increase sales.

"I sold quite a few copies down there, including three to Essex committee members," Lomax said.

Lancashire have declined to elaborate on the reasons for Lomax's exclusion, which were described as behaviour "not consistent with our core values" in the letter sent to him by club secretary Lee Morgan on April 12.

Timothy St Ather, another member of the LAG, has had his Lancashire life membership revoked for what Not The Spin describes as "disrespecting club administrators and attempting to sell Test Match tickets against the rules".

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Floods cause havoc at New Road

Worcestershire may be forced to move their first home game following the customary flood problem at New Road

Worcestershire's first home County Championship match of the season against Nottinghamshire will go ahead as planned at New Road on Friday thanks to a clean-up operation involving a team of volunteers including supporters and staff led by new chief executive Matt Rawnsley, who donned the Marigolds.

The square and most of the outfield were submerged under several feet of floodwater for four days when the rivers Severn and Teme broke their banks less than three weeks ago.

Worcestershire had made contingency plans to switch the match to Worcester Royal Grammar School's Flagge Meadow ground but the recent warm spell plus the use of industrial blowers on the square have helped to dry the New Road playing area.

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Somerset's Overton twins, Craig and Jamie, have become the best-insured players in England - and possibly the world - having taken out a top-up policy that would bring them close to a 1 million pay out if their careers were ended by a one-off injury or illness.

The standard insurance cover provided by the ECB and PCA provides a maximum pay-out of 320,000 but the Overtons, concerned the sum would be inadequate to cover their potential future earnings, have taken out their own permanent total disablement policies with insurance brokers Kerry London.

"With the earning power players now have from playing in T20 competitions around the world I think that we are going to see more players taking out these top-up policies to protect their income," Jason Ratcliffe, the Overtons' agent, said.

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Mohammad Amir is not the only Pakistan pace bowler who has encountered difficulties in gaining entry to the UK.

Mohammad Asif has been forced to withdraw from his contract with Ashcombe Park in the North Staffordshire/South Cheshire League after his application for a visa was turned down because of his involvement in spot fixing during the 2010 Lord's Test. Asif, Amir and then Pakistan captain Salman Butt were all jailed after they were caught in the newspaper sting.

"Asif applied for a visa but was told that because of his conviction he could not be granted one for ten years," Asif's agent Danny Arshad said.

Last month, Asif was refused entry to the UAE, where he was due to play in a T20 tournament, because he had incomplete entry papers.

Asif's place as Ashcombe Park's professional has been taken by Northamptonshire seamer Nathan Buck.

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Two members of last season's England Under-19s side caught the eye in the second round of County Championship matches.

Offspinner Amar Virdi took a career-best 4 for 79 in only his fourth Championship match to help Surrey beat Hampshire at The Oval.

Henry Brookes, selected by Warwickshire as a seamer, clobbered 70 from No. 10 in only his third Championship innings and took three wickets in the match to help set up an innings win over Northamptonshire.

Brookes, who was forced to withdraw from England's squad for the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand because of a stress fracture of the back, shared a ninth-wicket stand of 117 with Tim Ambrose, Warwickshire's highest for the wicket surpassing a record that had stood for 99 years.