Somerset surprised by cricket board’s ruling
It has not been a good past couple of weeks for Somerset Cricket Club since the league season resumed after Cup Match.
The club have now lost the points from Sunday's match with Flatts despite no umpires showing up.
The West Enders have been penalised for not having the minimum number of players, nine, by the scheduled 11am start time.
Flatts, who are bottom of the league, have moved from eight to 21 points with the defaulted win, a blow for Somerset just a week after having 13 points deducted for outstanding umpires' fees.
Last weekend they suffered an agonising one-wicket loss to Southampton Rangers which would have lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Jekon Edness, the Somerset captain, was yesterday shocked to see his team lose the points, with the BCB referring to rule 15.2 (b) which states: “For teams that are unable to field a legal side by 15 minutes after the scheduled or rescheduled start of play, the opposition will be awarded the match. Umpires will notify the Match Referee and/or BCB if this has occurred as soon as practicable.”
“We got the call early [on Sunday] that there weren't going to be any umpires present and once we knew that, guys coming from Somerset started to slow things down and took their time coming there,” Edness said.
“The ninth person showed up after 11am, but the game wasn't going to start any time soon.”
Edness and Nelson Bascome of Flatts had been on the phone with Neil Speight, the Bermuda Cricket Board chief executive, to discuss the situation when the information was relayed that OJ Minors, the St David's president, and Reginald Pitcher were prepared to officiate.
“Apparently Neil was called by one of the Flatts players and told that we had umpires ready to go, but that was news to me because the first time I heard that we had umpires available was hearing it from Neil over the phone,” Edness said.
“Then, another of my players rolls in and now we've got nine and if Flatts have umpires then we're ready to play. I asked one of the fellas said to be umpiring, ‘Are you umpiring' and he said, ‘I'm not umpiring, I'm leaving right now'. That was the St David's president, OJ Minors.
“The other person they had down was Reggie Pitcher and he wasn't even on the premises, so there comes the question, if these are the umpires, both are gone and are never presented to me, then how can you say we forfeit the game? It becomes a case of he says, she says and who has the best speaker.
“There's another loophole, and to be honest a lot of teams are not comfortable playing with some random guy or fan. Umpires go through all these training courses to become qualified and now you're saying on the flip side none are available, just play the game with anybody.”
Speight confirmed the phone conversation with Bascome and Edness the morning of the match.
“I was on the phone with Nelson and Jekon for about 25 minutes and said I wasn't going to hang up until we sort this out,” Speight said. “On the basis of them not having enough players there when they were supposed to, then the points are awarded to Flatts.” The whole situation has left Edness somewhat disheartened and the Somerset captain said that something needed to be done to stop the annual decline of cricket on the Island, once Cup Match had been and gone.
“It's unfair to teams that don't have umpires, for them [BCB] to say you just have to play with unqualified persons,” Edness said. “How can games be played in that manner? It's disheartening, to tell you the truth.
“Something needs to be done so that it is not happening any more.
“Every year without fail it is the same story after Cup Match, no umpires, forfeitures.”
Somerset are level on 29 points with Willow Cuts but are ahead of them on net run rate. Somerset have three games remaining, Bailey's Bay at home on Sunday, Cleveland on September 5 and St David's on September 13.
However, their problems with player availability will increase with the likes of Justin Donawa, Marcus Johnson, Joshua Gilbert and Justin Corday leaving for school and other overseas commitments.
“That's what we struggle with every year coming into mid-to-late August,” Edness said. “Flatts haven't won a game all year but I would have backed us to beat them.”