Ruling backflip triggers clubs’ anger at WDCA

WARRNAMBOOL and District Cricket Association (WDCA) is under fire after backflipping on a player eligibility decision which has resulted in West Warrnambool being stripped of points.

The Panthers lodged an appeal yesterday after their division three side had its 28-run win over Nirranda on Sunday discarded after the Knights complained that West fielded an ineligible player.

Sources say West had earlier sought clarification from the WDCA match committee about a player’s eligibility and subsequently played the cricketer in accordance with the advice it received.

Knights president Glenn Dalton yesterday confirmed that his club had complained to the association.

“According to the playing rules he was ineligible, but the association gave him the OK to play, which is just ridiculous,” he said.

“The playing rules are there for a reason.

“The clubs seem to know them but the board of management doesn’t.”

Dalton said there was no malice towards West when Nirranda lodged its complaint, which resulted in the Panthers being stripped of their points despite seeking clarification on the rule.

“I think it’s ridiculous that it’s come to this between West Warrnambool and Nirranda, all because of the board of management,” he said.

“We just saw an ineligible player and we thought that we should get the points.

“They set up extra committees when they revamped the association a few years ago and there was a rules committee put in place.

“I sit on the rules committee meetings on behalf of Nirranda and we come up with the rules for a reason, because that’s what the clubs want.

“As far as I’m concerned, (the board) forgets that they are working for the clubs.

“They seem to be running it how they want to run it.”

Rule 9.1.3b states that “where the club’s first XI team is not scheduled to play, any player who was named in the club’s first XI for the preceding match and the majority of matches in the club’s first XI team in that season, is not eligible to play for any lower XI team in matches scheduled on that day.”

Last weekend, division one matches were played on Saturday while division three played one-dayers on both Saturday and Sunday.

West Warrnambool president Kade Hancock confirmed that the club had lodged an appeal but declined to comment further, saying the Panthers wanted to let the appeal process take its course.

WDCA general manager Andrew Sloane was not aware of the appeal yesterday afternoon, while association chairman Robert Haberfield and match committee chairman Bruce Membrey could not be contacted.

It comes after a similar incident last season which saw Russells Creek’s division three side lose its spot in the grand final after an appeal.

The club acted on clarification it received from Haberfield and Membrey on a different eligibility rule but it was not minuted that it applied to division three, resulting in Nestles taking Creek’s place in the decider.