League probes player’s legality in final day defeat for Haverhill

Joe Woodley bowls for Haverhill against Ipswich. 'Pic; Richard Marsham ANL-150523-201450009
Joe Woodley bowls for Haverhill against Ipswich. 'Pic; Richard Marsham ANL-150523-201450009

An investigation is taking place into whether Mildenhall Cricket Club’s third XI played an ineligible player in their victory over Haverhill IIs.

Should Mildenhall be found guilty of breaching a league rule they could have the 20 points earned for the win removed and be deducted a further 16 points, which would put them bottom of the table and see them relegated - pending any appeal.

Haverhill would also be awarded 20 points for the win, lifting them from third to second and a guaranteed promotion.

The two sides met on the final day of the Division Four campaign on Saturday in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship with Haverhill in second and needing a win to confirm promotion.

Mildenhall fielded South African Kobus Sholtz, their overseas player in their Two Counties Division One side last year who this summer has been playing for Buckhurst Hill in the Essex Premier League, where he was the league’s second highest run scorer.

Scholtz’s 172 helped Mildenhall post 283-2 before they bowled out Haverhill for 112, sending them out of the promotion positions.

League rules state that any player who is registered with any premier league club cannot play in the Two Counties League unless they are given permission to do so.

A claim has been made to the league that permission was not sought.

Two Counties Championship secretary, Alan Rogers, said: “I do not now (if permission was sought) until we send round to the management sub committee.

“We’ve got to check with the whole of the committee and we will ask Mildenhall for their comments.

“Until then the Two Counties committee are making no comment.”

Mildenhall CC chairman, Lou Handy, said the club acted ‘in good faith’ when playing Scholtz, adding: “We are not aware of any reason he is not allowed to play.

“Anything is hearsay as far as we are concerned. If the league feels some rule has been infringed they will be in touch with us.”

While the controversy unfolded. Joe Woodley stood down as Haverhill’s first team skipper after two seasons.

The 27-year-old pace bowler has played for Haverhill for 12 years and is their leading wicket taker, with over 400 wickets (including 30 this season) but he now requires surgery to repair two central disc bulges.

He said: “I just thought it was best for the club that I step aside. I’m not sure that I will be bowling again or even playing again the way it is at the moment.

“It’s quite frustrating but at the same time it’s a relief.

“I’ve lived for five years with excruciating back pain every day. If you are struggling to pick up your own daughter, it’s time to sort it out.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve played Division One cricket, I’ve led the side and led the bowling for years and I’m very proud of it and hopefully I will go out on a high, finishing third and going up.”