Saints rain supreme, but away success is clouded in controversy

Reporter:

Shaun Davies

CONTROVERSY reigned during the weekend rain.

There was a highly dramatic end to Saturday’s North Wales Cricket League Premier Division clash between Hawarden Park and St Asaph.

The Saints were awarded the tie after Park skipper Ian Martin took his side off the field due to concerns over the conditions following rain, which meant the home side conceded the contest and the Elwy Grove Park outfit were handed 10 points for their efforts.

In addition, Hawarden were docked 15 points due to a breach of league rules, a result that sees them plummet to eighth place in the standings.

A St Asaph spokesman said: “Their captain took his players off the field without the umpires’ permission, saying it was too dangerous because of the wet conditions.

“According to league rules, conceding a match incurs a 15-point penalty and the other team (us in this instance) are awarded the win and get the average of the winning points for that division for that day.

“Looking at the winning points in the other five Premier Division games... that would give us 12 points.

“Presently we have only been awarded 10 points, but all of this will need to be confirmed and ratified by the league management committee, so things are up in the air at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Hawarden Park have appealed against the ruling.

After bowling 5.5 overs of the second innings, the heavens opened with rain falling for around an hour-and-a-half.

When the rain stopped and after an inspection of the pitch, the surface was deemed playable by umpires David Jones and Ian Baker.

Despite advice from the groundsman, himself a qualified umpire, the restart was set for 6pm.

On returning to the field, wicket-keeper Wes Sleep slipped in his position behind the stumps, while both bowlers - Mike Wootton and Campbell Marr - felt unsafe in their ability to bowl as they needed, with St Asaph chasing just 89 from 24.1 overs.

After Marr had followed Wootton in taking a wicket, he slipped and it was decided that the conditions were dangerous by the home side.

Captain Ian Martin, after consulting with his players, decided that it was best to take his side from the field in order to let the ground dry sufficiently.

The umpires deemed this as Hawarden conceding the game, which was brought to a close just 15 minutes before the rain returned.

Martin, who had earlier seen his team bowled out for 123, said: “We will contest the decision.

“Our issue was that areas of the square were very wet. We were willing to play, but we felt it was in the interest of safety to let the ground dry for another half-an-hour.

“There was only 13 minutes between inspection and restarting and it was too wet for the game to be fair for both teams.”

Although they were reduced to 10-2 during their reply, the Saints remained strong favourites to record victory during their Premier Division trip to Hawarden Park.

It was a frustrating end to a contest that had seen the high-flying visitors on top pretty much from the off.

One thing Hawarden Park did manage to win on the day was the pre-match toss and they opted to make first use of the Moor Lane batting strip.

A solid start was provided by the home side, with all of the top-four reaching double figures.

Openers Wesley Sleep (14) and Ian Dixon (28) set the ball rolling in decent fashion for Hawarden Park, before Campbell Marr (23) and David Hughes (10) continued to push the score along.

The St Asaph attack stuck to their task, though, and only one further home batsman managed to reach double figures during the remainder of the innings.

Jason Foulkes was the undoubted star of the show with ball in hand and his 5-41 return was the main reason that Hawarden Park were bowled out for just 123 in the 37th over.

The other wickets to fall were shared by Alex Baker (2-30), Andrew Bellis (1-4) and Paul Fleming (1-16).

Although they were faced with a small victory target, a stop-start beginning to the innings didn’t help the Saints.

They were 5-0 when the first batch of rain came along and when play got back underway, the Saints were reduced to 10-2.

Michael Wootton (1-2) and Campbell Marr (1-8) were Hawarden Park’s wicket takers.

Email:

shaun.davies@nwn.co.uk

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