BREAKING: Frinton II's points deduction to stand in Two Counties in landmark Home Office case

Haverhill Cricket Club, the scene of Haverhill's defeat to Frinton II only the weekend before last, and which had seemed to be the final nail in their relegation coffin, before Frinton's appeal to a 36 points deduction was overturned and saw the sides switch places.  Picture: Mark Bullimore
Haverhill Cricket Club, the scene of Haverhill's defeat to Frinton II only the weekend before last, and which had seemed to be the final nail in their relegation coffin, before Frinton's appeal to a 36 points deduction was overturned and saw the sides switch places. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Haverhill Cricket Club's chances of avoiding relegation from the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship's top tier have received a big shot in the arm, following Frinton II's appeal for losing 36 points for fielding an ineligible foreign player being dismissed.

An independent panel of three lawyers from cricketing backgrounds heard the case from representatives involved on Friday and reserved their judgement until lunchtime today (Tuesday) when a 20-page document of their findings - showing the complexity of a case involving the Home Office and the game's national governing body, the ECB, was published on the Two Counties cricket league's website.

The judgement itself dismissed the right for Frinton II to avoid a 36 points deduction in Division One - 16 for replaying the playing in question, Blake Reed, once the offence came to light - for breaching the rules on playing foreign players who have already played the equivalent of first-class cricket in their home countries.

It has resulted in Haverhill, whose bid to finish above the bottom two assigned relegation places had looked bleak heading into the final month-and-a-bit of the season, moving up to third-from-bottom, with Frinton II dropping to second-from-bottom, five points adrift from safety above marooned basement side Braintree.

A statement issued on the Two Counties Cricket website read:

"The Appeal Tribunal met on 4th August to considered (sic) Frinton on Sea CC’s appeal against the MSC decision taken at the Committee Meeting on 3rd July (under Rule 13a) to deduct 36 points from Frinton on Sea CC for playing an ineligible player in the Division 1 match against Maldon CC on 1st July and to award 20 points and the match to Maldon CC.

Their findings are attached and can be accessed by clicking this link. However the main issue is covered in para 72 which we show below:

72. We have already noted that we have been given no information as to the nature of Mr Reed’s current employment (outside cricket) in Frinton-on-Sea (or elsewhere in Essex). We note, too, that although Mr Reed states (witness statement para 16, A69) that he does not, and has not, earned a living from cricket and plays as an amateur in Perth, he gives no information as to his employment or means of living in Australia. We consider that we cannot ignore Mr Reed’s own statement on the cricket mentoring website in which he not only describes himself as “an aspiring young cricketer” but also “a top order player.” We note, too that the webpage (R53) is headed “World’s leading online cricket coaching service.” It seems to us inconceivable that Mr Reed would not expect to be paid for the services he is effectively advertising. Accordingly, we conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that despite his assertion to the contrary, Mr Reed is not engaging in cricket solely for personal enjoyment and that he is, whether directly or indirectly, seeking to derive a living from cricket. Accordingly, he was an ineligible player and in breach of his visa when he played for Frinton against Maldon CC on 1 July 2017.

The Division 1 table has today been adjusted accordingly in accordance with the MSC decision on 3rd July and the decision of the Appeal Tribunal on 4th August."

* For Haverhill reaction to this breaking story, don't miss Thursday's Haverhill Echo print edition.