Ballyspallen searching for Senior status
‘SPALLEN SEARCHING FOR SENIOR STATUS
An interesting scenario is currently developing within North West cricket circles as one of the Union’s former Division 1 clubs have begun the process of seeking re-admission to the senior league. Most will remember that the Ballyspallen club pulled out of the top flight just weeks before the 2007 season began, leaving a 9-team league that year, although they were facilitated to retain an Intermediate eleven.
Now however it appears that the club is ready to put an infrastructure back in place as they hope to be accommodated back in senior Division 2 as soon as possible. Club spokesman John Thompson pointed out recently that at the time that they were forced to withdraw from the league, the North West Executive wrote to him and advised that they would reluctantly accept the club’s withdrawal from the Union but that they would be welcomed back should their situation change in the future.
“I took that letter at face value and have now approached the North West and advised that Ballyspallen will be able to field a senior team as soon as we are given the go-ahead. To be truthful about the matter we made representations for re-admission at the North West AGM at the end of last year and we didn’t expect that it would happen straight away. I see no reason however why something should not be put in place now to facilitate our club for the 2010 season, given that we believe the invitation still stands. How we can be accommodated is an issue for the North West but one fairly obvious choice would be to promote another club and make it a 12-team league.”
Whilst the North West accepts that they did contact the club at that time and wished them a return to senior cricket, there are several issues that they will have to address regarding Ballyspallen’s return. Firstly, they will surely require some guarantees that they aren’t left scampering around looking for replacements if the ’Spallen deal falls through again. As well as that, there are no obvious candidates to promote along with them to even the numbers up, and it’s very doubtful if the current Division 2 clubs would agree to relegation for one season to facilitate their return.
Bear in mind of course there is no facility for promotion from Intermediate to senior leagues at present, therefore normal promotion rules are not a factor in any case. Some have pointed to the fact that the team only finished third in Intermediate League 3 last season which would hardly entitle them to elevation to senior cricket but John Thompson has confirmed that he would be bringing in several new players as soon as they are re-admitted. “We fielded an Intermediate side in an Intermediate league and we will field a senior team when we are back in the senior league” he reasoned. That then would seem to leave just one realistic alternative which would be to go with an eleven team Division 2 league in 2010.
Obviously that would bring its own problems in terms of weekly fixtures, cup draws and the likes but whilst it’s far from ideal, it looks like one of the few genuine options for now. To be fair to Ballyspallen it would be great to see them put their problems behind them and return to senior cricket here, and John Thompson has certainly got plans for the club and indeed the ground. A lot of work remains to be done by both parties of course but whatever arrangement is to be put in place will have to happen well in advance of the forthcoming campaign to allow all clubs involved the opportunity to make preparations. There will no doubt be plenty of discussion required between both parties over the next few months but Ballyspallen will certainly be hoping that a suitable arrangement can be thrashed out sooner rather than later.
Away from the local scene for now however and despite the fact that this column has, for obvious reasons, always defended the umpires’ fraternity, I would like to finish this evening with the issue of “referrals” of umpires decisions which is currently being tested in the International arena. Those in charge are keen to point out that the system will probably need some fine tuning, but anyone watching last week’s contest between England and the West Indies could argue that it was nothing short of a fiasco.
The truth of the matter is that at all levels of the game, umpires make mistakes and players know and accept that. Over the past few years, those mistakes have become less frequent as training facilities for umpires have improved. The errors that are made at the top level are of course picked up by all sorts of television angles and that adds to the pressure of the job, yet despite that, players in the main recognise that it’s a difficult task, and the vast majority get on with it if they get the odd “bad ‘un”. What is much harder to deal with however is when an incorrect decision is made or assisted by a guy who has the benefit of television replays, plus all the time he wants to get it right. In the second Test of the same series we had the worst caught behind decision I’ve ever seen given by third umpire, Daryl Harper, but the shambles of the West Indies first innings last week will take some beating.
For the record, Chris Gayle’s side lost their first 5 wickets, all to lbw decisions, two of which were referred upstairs. In the first instance, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who it must be said is an lbw candidate from every ball, was given out to one which looked even to the naked eye that it was heading a foot over the stumps. Chanderpaul referred the decision yet unbelievably, Harper suggested that he could see nothing that would make him change his mind and the decision stood. Then, to add insult to injury, Graeme Swann appealed unsuccessfully for lbw against Brendan Nash but this time the bowler referred the decision and Mr Harper suggested that the on-field umpire should reverse his decision. With the batsman well forward, and the ball turning, how the third umpire could intervene in one decision and not the other defied logic.
At the end of the day’s play a rather sheepish match referee tried to defend the third umpire by saying that he’s not there to change decisions, only to offer guidance to his on-field colleagues, but he was fooling no-one. For a top class umpire to get those calls wrong in the heat of the moment would be one thing, but there is simply no excuse for it when you have the benefit of four different television angles. Bob Willis made his feelings clear on Sky Sports when he said that despite the fact that England benefitted from the mistakes that it was “time that Harper picked up his bus pass”. Whilst it was difficult to argue with that, it is also clear that the whole referral system isn’t just in need of fine tuning; it is as far out as Fanad Lighthouse and the ICC needs to either scrap it completely, or make wholesale changes. Expect the big guns of world cricket to have their say on the obvious shortcomings soon.