Norfolk Alliance warn clubs over team strengthening

Norfolk Alliance clubs have been warned to resist the temptation of strengthening their second and third teams when their first XIs do not have a fixture.

The Alliance committee has found that four clubs – Beccles, Fakenham, Vauxhall Mallards and Saxlingham – have fielded strengthened sides in lower divisions already this season and have handed them suspended 15-point penalties.

The committee agreed that a minimum 15-point penalty will be imposed on any club found to be artificially strengthening their teams within the Alliance and league chairman Peter Thomas said: 'At the meeting at the start of the season I asked teams to be fair, but obviously some have not. We have tried to nip it in the bud so that it does not happen in the future.

'We are monitoring every situation where a club does not have a Premier Division game and looking closely at the team sheets. Of course we appreciate that there might be occasions when a player is dropped and that could coincide with the first team not having a game, but the club needs to contact myself, John Murrell or Dick Chapple and get permission.'

Mallards' suspended penalty relates to their third team game at Saxlingham A in Division Six on May 7. Their second team were without a match and James Shipley played for the thirds, scoring 160no.

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Fakenham meanwhile included first teamers Ian Slegg and Sean Cooper for a second team match against Hillington on April 30, and although Cooper did not feature significantly, Slegg took four for 16.

The early start to the season in Division Six also caused problems, with both matches on April 23 involving complaints of team strengthening.

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Beccles A and Saxlingham A were both reported for including first team players in their respective matches at Topcroft A and Vauxhall Mallards B.

The penalties on all four clubs have been suspended as the committee felt there were extenuating circumstances in each case.

Thomas said that the message to clubs was that if they are in any doubt over team selection, to obtain permission from the Alliance first: 'We don't want to deprive anyone of a game of cricket,' he said. 'We just want clubs to be honest with us. They need to ask themselves if they would be playing that person in the first team if there was a first team game that day.'

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