The chairman of Haverhill Cricket Club has backed the Two Counties Championship to find a fair resolution for an overseas player infringement at Frinton-on-Sea.
Michael Rinaldi’s comments followed the first team’s narrow 15-run loss to the Frinton seconds, the team at the centre of the controversy.
Frinton II were sanctioned by the league for fielding an ineligible overseas player, Blake Reed, in their match against Maldon on July 1, but immediately lodged an appeal with the courts.
The issue of his ineligibility stems from a Home Office ruling that he was unable to play in this country under the terms of his Tier Five visa.
The club lodged an injunction against seven members of the Two Counties Management Sub Committee, to permit Reed to play and to quash the 36-point penalty imposed.
The league subsequently agreed to allow Reed to play in the club’s remaining fixtures, on condition that injunction proceedings cease.
Rinaldi criticised the unusually strong response from Frinton as ‘frustrating’ and suggested the club was ‘scaring the league into submission.’
“From our point of view, we have abided by the rules and it’s frustrating,” he said.
“It’s a very complicated situation and the league are doing a very good job and, quite often, doing it free of charge.
“Not having an overseas player has definitely hurt us, but we made the decision a few seasons ago to support and boost homegrown players.
“We back the league’s plan to do this and so will support whatever decision they make.”
Haverhill (138) hosted a Frinton II (153-9) team that fielded the much-talked about Reed, losing by 15 runs.
Stand in captain Anthony Phillips won the toss and elected to bowl — with forecast rain likely to play a part in the game.
A couple of early wickets for Will Bailey (10-1-43-2) and Dan Pass (8-2-19-2) got the home side off to a flyer.
But several batting partnerships for Frinton kept them in the game.
Three late wickets for leg spinner Chris Palmer (8-0-32-3) brought Frinton’s innings to a close on 153-9.
Haverhill’s reply faltered early, with the loss of opener Steve Fox (2), but Dan Pass (58) continued to bat aggressively reaching his half century in good time.
At 80-1, Haverhill were in a good position but with the rain came wickets. The umpires decided to play on, despite the home side feeling conditions had worsened.
And only Bailey (25) seemed able to adjust to the deteriorating conditions as the final wicket fell with Haverhill still 15 runs short of the Frinton total.
The home side’s frustration spilled out at one stage, with Phillips receiving a Level One disciplinary offence for his sins, as the team were disappointed by a few decisions made by the umpires.
The offence will stay on record should he re-offend.
Rinaldi said: “The team are improving more and more and the average age on Saturday was just 22.
“It’s hard for them to keep getting so close and not being able to convert it.”
n Haverhill travel to Mistley on Saturday (1pm).