Points penalty confirmed

STRATFORD Cricket Club has been stripped of its twenty20 premiership and most of its points for the regular season, after withdrawing its appeal on Monday.

In a statement on its website, the Sale-Maffra Cricket Association announced that following the results of Saturday’s matches and clarification of the penalty that would be applied in relation to the alleged offence, Stratford withdrew its appeal within three minutes of the opening of the hearing.

The penalty applied in relation to the offence was the loss of points for all matches in which the unregistered professional player competed. This included 12 regular season matches and multiple twenty20 matches.

The decision did not affect Stratford’s final round victory over Sale City.

Prize money which would have been awarded to Stratford as a result of its twenty20 success will instead be withheld and pooled into next season’s tournament.

While some protests have been made against the severity of the penalty handed down to Stratford, the association stressed the rule was able to be changed if enough of the clubs agreed. Stratford’s loss of points comes only a few years after Sale received a points penalty for committing a similar offence.

Even if Stratford’s appeal had been successful, the Redbacks would still have missed out on a place in the semi-finals.

The decision, and allocation of points, means Bundalaguah finishes the home and away season on top of the ladder followed by Rosedale-Kilmany, Sale and Boisdale-Briagolong.

It also means Bundalaguah finished on top of the one-day standings, ahead of Rosedale-Kilmany.

The matter was heard by an independent panel set-up by Gippsland cricket’s governing body on Monday afternoon.

In a statement, Stratford Cricket Club president Sam Anstee said the club, despite accepting the penalty, maintained at the point of the SMCA decision it had not breached rule the concerning professional players.

Anstee the player in question had not received payment at the time.

Anstee claimed the club it was not given an opportunity to present any information to the SMCA committee it believed would clear the administrative oversight.