Merrivale out as tribunal upholds semi-final ruling

THE Warrnambool and District Cricket Association is being urged to rewrite its rules despite a tribunal last night dismissing Merrivale’s appeal to have Sunday’s semi-final loss declared null and void.

The independent tribunal deliberated for 45 minutes before upholding the match committee’s decision to turn the two-day semi-final into a one-day match.

The decision means reigning premier Merrivale’s season is over and its semi-final conqueror Dennington will take on West Warrnambool in Saturday’s division one grand final.

Merrivale had appealed to the tribunal, arguing the association’s match committee had wrongly interpreted a rule that had the game revert back to a one-day match.

While the independent tribunal panel of chairman Terry O’Keeffe, Kelvin White and Earl Dakin backed the match committee’s right to make the decision, they recommended the association review its rules to accurately reflect the intention of the rule makers.

They were satisfied with the process the match committee had followed and said it was up to clubs to understand the rules they were playing under.

Tigers president Simon Fleming told the hearing the association had announced on radio on Saturday night that games would proceed as normal but then backflipped at a Sunday morning match committee meeting that excluded a key member, Justin Balmer.

Fleming said the decision to revert to a one-day game was the result of an incorrect interpretation of rule 11.5.2 (c) in the association’s playing conditions.

“The senior playing conditions are at best ambiguous, poorly written and open to interpretation,” he said.

Fleming illustrated his point by stating that rule 4.2 said all two-day finals matches be played in accordance with rule 12. But rule 12 referred to one-day matches.

Fleming said the rule in question, 11.5.2 (c), applied to home-and-away matches not a semi-final because it clearly said “if no points result” had been reached on the first-day of the match. 

He argued the use of the term “points result” referred to home-and-away matches because no points were awarded in a semi-final.

But the association’s chairman Nick Frampton told the tribunal that the match committee had interpreted the rule to apply to a semi-final because rule 11.8.1 said the playing conditions for all matches, except the grand final, would be as set out under rule 11.

The tribunal heard evidence from association board member Justin Balmer, who resigned in “disgust” at the decision on Sunday.

Balmer, called by Merrivale, said as a member of the match committee, he had a conversation on Saturday night with committee chairman Bruce Membrey and both believed the match would continue as a two-day game on Sunday after only 19 overs could be bowled because of rain.

He said Membrey indicated he would contact another committee member, Gordon McLeod.

Balmer, who reviewed the association’s rules at the start of the season, said the convention applied for the past 25 years was that a semi-final affected by rain on the opening day would be played out as a two-day match, ensuring the highest placed finisher had an advantage if no result was achieved.

He said he only became aware the match had been changed to a one-dayer after a match committee meeting had been convened on Sunday morning, of which he had not been notified. 

He then gathered association material in his possession and returned it to general manager Michael Harrison, along with his written resignation.

Association chairman Frampton earlier told the hearing a match committee meeting that he had attended with Membrey and McLeod had been convened on Sunday at 8.30am where the decision was made after an hour’s discussion.

“Ultimately we knew whatever way we went we would end up in this room but we had to make a decision,” Frampton said.

“We believe it is the correct application of the rules.”

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