It promises to be a challenging year for administrators if the season continues the way it has started in the Northern Cricket Union!

Inevitably Duckworth Lewis has been at the centre of at least two major controversies, and yet another registration “gaff” sparked a club versus union impasse.

Every controversy has at least two angles, but at the end of the day a decision has to be made and that’s when the integrity of the Rules and Regulations is tested. To operate with discretion sounds good in principle, but it sets a dangerous precedent and may come back to haunt you if something goes wrong.

North Down saw the good, the bad and the ugly of Duckworth Lewis when they lost their big league match with Waringstown in deplorable weather conditions one Saturday and then had their Irish Cup match with Eglinton handed to them on a plate the following Saturday after the home team failed to provide a Duckworth Lewis print-out within the scheduled 15 minutes as per the rules.

On the face of it the rulebook prevailed in both instances, but close scrutiny might suggest otherwise. The match at the Lawn could have been, and perhaps should have been, abandoned long before it reached the mandatory 20 overs in the second innings as bad light and rain made the conditions dreadful.

However, in their endeavour to get the match finished umpires stayed on the field and invited the wrath of the loser when Duckworth Lewis was eventually applied. Understandably North Down wanted the match abandoned when they were in front and similarly Waringstown wanted it abandoned when they were in front.

When the decision went in favour of the home team the visitors cried foul. Had it gone against them Waringstown would have felt similarly aggrieved.

The umpires at Eglinton were not so accommodating when the ISC first round match was reduced to 10 overs and Eglinton’s printer didn’t produce the all-important printout within the scheduled time. The umpires stuck with the rulebook and although the printout was produced a few minutes after the scheduled time it was deemed too late according to the rulebook and inadvertently North Down were “rewarded.”

Looking from the outside one might feel the decision was harsh, but not according to the umpires and the organizers Cricket Ireland who subsequently declined Eglinton’s Appeal.

Controversy number three involved Muckamore’s Patrick Fisher who had been allowed to play several matches by the NCU on the basis that his Immigration clearance was a formality due to his Irish mother and approval was “in the post.”

However, when the NCU learned the application was declined they informed the club he was ineligible to play Instonians the following day until it was formally approved. Some Muckamore people weren’t too pleased although they should pause to reflect on what happened in 2006 when it was discovered that North Down didn’t properly register Peter Connell.

The Comber club forfeited a plethora of points and Waringstown were handed the Senior League title on a plate.

The poor old rulebook gets a pasting almost every time there is a controversy, but anarchy would prevail if we didn’t have definitive rules and regulations.

Of course, common sense is a wonderful thing and some people might feel the poor weather conditions at the Lawn were the same for both teams and Waringstown deserved their victory, as they were well in front when stumps were pulled.

They may even feel the umpires at Eglinton ruined a game of cricket with such a pedantic ruling and perhaps they feel the NCU should have turned a “blind eye” to the Fisher registration until it was finally approved?

But where does it stop when you break your own rules and regulations?

Love them or hate them, we need them.