Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Yorkshire say "No" to Sussex replay request

It is the climax of the Women's County Championship. Three teams are fighting it out for top spot. Just 0.5 of an average point (don't ask!) separates the teams. In a recent piece I wrote that the I hoped that the cancelled games from the previous week involving those three teams would not decide the Championship. But it seems that they probably will.

One had hoped that the lessons had been learned from the 2012 season where Essex qualified for the play-offs after playing just two of their league games and declining to play others that had been cancelled. But it seems not. The league rules have not been tightened up.

Kent, who sit top of the league, were due to play Berkshire two weekends ago, but the game was called off due to rain. It seems that game will not now be played. On the same day Sussex had travelled all the way to Harrogate only to watch the rain fall. Following the Royal London Women's One Day Cup Rules and Regulations, Sussex (currently third) requested that the game be replayed before the cut-off date of 28th September. Yorkshire (currently second) have declined due to the non-availability of some of their players. In the circumstances you would think that they would therefore forfeit the game and that Sussex would take full points (10 for the win and a full 8 bonus points).

But you would be wrong. "For a match to be rearranged both counties need to agree to replay it. In the event that they do not agree to replay, the original result of a cancelled fixture remains." This is the official line from the ECB. Is this really right?

If you scour through the Rules and Regs you won't find anything to contradict this. In fact you will find nothing in the rules that deals with this situation at all. Basically if it suits you not to play a cancelled game, then there is no obligation on you to make any effort to sort it out at all, and no penalty for your choosing not to do so. Quite why the rules bother to state that "If the home side is unable to find a suitable venue then the away team shall be offered the opportunity to host the match" is baffling. If the home side simply do not want to play then they can simply say "no thanks".

So that leaves the games that are due to be played this weekend as the last games of the season. Quite simply Yorkshire know that if they beat bottom of the table Lancashire and get 7 or 8 bonus points then they will win the league. They know that if they were to play their cancelled game with Sussex and lose then they would have no chance of winning the league, and Sussex's chances would be enhanced, if they also scored more than 15 points. It seems it is a risk Yorkshire are not prepared to take, so they have simply refused to play.

As for Sussex, there seems to be nothing that they can do. If they beat Berkshire on Sunday and take full points then they will be level with Kent at the top of the league, but Yorkshire will be able to pass them too with 17/18 points from their last game.

And if it rains on Sunday, or Yorkshire or Sussex don't win with enough points, then Kent will be the champions. All in all not a desperately satisfactory way to end women's cricket's premier competition.



  1. Regulation 4.3.8 "If both Counties cannot agree a date for a rearranged fixture and where there is no fault on the part of either County the “original” fixture date will stand. Where there is disagreement, this should be referred to the ECB Competitions Department."

    The season runs to Sunday 27th September (clearly stated in the rules). It follows that counties have a responsibility to be able to field a team during that period (otherwise why the heck enter the competition in the first place). If a county cannot field a team during that period then surely they must be deemed to be at fault. Thus, if (and I stress 'if') Yorkshire have claimed they cannot field a team they must be declared by the ECB to be at fault.

    It would therefore follow that the matter has (in accordance with the rules) been handed over to the ECB Competitions Department.

    If the match is not to be played I would expect a full statement from the ECB Competitions Department explaining the circumstances. If they want people to follow and support the county championship the least they can do is treat us like followers and supporters and it would be totally unacceptable for a full explanation not to be made public.

  2. I think we need to acknowledge firstly that these are mostly amateur players, who might find it difficult to get time off work during the week at short notice. The deadline theoretically allows teams to re-arrange at weekends during the rest of the month, however the WCC takes place almost exclusively on club grounds, many of which are out of action once the last club match has taken place (up here the last day of men’s league matches is Saturday 12th, and I wouldn't fancy my chances of finding any ground in the county to play any sort of game on from Monday 14th onwards). However I totally disagree with the average points system, which encourages teams near the top to not play, as they can then protect their average. If they turn up and the ground is slightly damp, you don’t need a rocket science degree to work out they’re going to milk that for all it’s worth and claim the ground is dangerous to play on. The competition needs to revert to a system whereby a low number of points (no more than the maximum of 8 you can get from a loss) is awarded for all cancelled matches, and the title is then decided on total points. I think the original reason for adopting the average points system was not the vagaries of the English weather, but the fact that Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands used to play only half the games of the other teams. It just never got changed once these teams started playing a full programme.

  3. As I understand it a ground was not an issue. It was the non-availability of players which apparently made up Yorkshire's mind. Game was due to be played on a Sunday.

  4. As a Sussex fan, I would love to see this match played, but I can understand Yorkshire's position. Most of the girls are amateurs with extensive other commitments, and rescheduling this close to season's season's end is doubly difficult.