Tribunal outs Woodford bowler for two matches over mid-pitch altercation

WOODFORD’S Rick McInerney was last night suspended for two matches after being found guilty of using obscene or offensive language during Saturday’s Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) division two match against East Warrnambool-YCW. 

McInerney faced four charges at a tribunal hearing at Emmanuel College last night over an incident with East Warrnambool-YCW player Jamie Baulch. 

McInerney, who was offered a six-match suspension by the association’s match committee, pleaded guilty to using obscene or offensive language.

He pleaded not guilty to charges of engaging in inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with other players or officials, threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator and intentionally contacting or striking another player. The three latter charges were dismissed by the independent tribunal panel, chaired by Terry O’Keeffe. 

The ban means McInerney will miss this week’s clash with top side Merrivale and next week’s semi-final. He will be available should the Eels make the grand final. 

In opening summaries, Woodford player advocate John Houston tried to get the hearing dismissed on a technicality, questioning if the charges were within the bylaws, because the club was informed 49 hours after the end of the match rather than within 48 hours as stipulated in the rule book.

Umpire advocate Justin Balmer said he believed the end of the match meant at the scheduled time of completion, which is 6pm, not the time the last wicket fell. 

The panel deliberated for 15 minutes, deciding notification of McInerney’s report was made within the guidelines.

Reporting umpire Andrew Prentice told the hearing there had been niggling between the two sides on day one of the match the previous week. He said he spoke to Baulch at the conclusion of day one.

He said on day two Baulch was batting and hitting McInerney’s deliveries to the boundary.

“The last ball of the over was skied and caught,” he said.

“I turned to watch the catch and when I turned around both players (Baulch and McInerney) were in the middle of the pitch shaping up.

“There were no punches thrown or any physical contact. They were just like bulls in a ring. Rick was shaping up to him, they were chest to chest, eyeball to eyeball.” 

Under questioning from tribunal members O’Keeffe, Robert Wade and Ian Greer, Prentice reiterated that he saw no punches thrown or any physical contact, but did hear McInerney and Baulch exchanging words.

“They were swearing, yes, but nothing personal was being said. It was boiling up and player McInerney seemed to be the aggressor,” he said. 

“I didn’t hear any verbal threat to assault.” 

Prentice conceded his match report, which said the players “were going at it” should have been worded better, because physical contact “did not happen”.

McInerney said after the ball was skied, he turned to watch the catch and was heading to celebrate with his teammates. 

He said when he turned around Baulch was standing right beside him. 

“Baulch pushed me a bit and sort of punched me. I took a couple of steps back and put my hands up ready to defend myself further,” McInerney said. 

“There was a bit of yelling and then James Umbers came up and walked Baulch away. I admit there was swearing.” 

Witnesses James Umbers and Jarrod Hastings, both Woodford players, both said they saw Baulch approach McInerney, push him and that McInerney only lifted his fists in a defensive manner.  

Baulch was not at the hearing. 

After a short deliberation, O’Keeffe said there wasn’t enough evidence to uphold the three charges relating to physical contact but handed down the two-match ban on the charge of using obscene or offensive language. 

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