Premier 1 in turmoil after rows

By Jared Smith

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The final two weeks of Premier 1 one-day cricket have been thrown into disarray over discontent about player eligibility and communication breakdowns.

Controversy erupted out of the weekend's matches involving Collegiate after key teenaged player Andre Halbert believed to be unavailable for Hawke Cup duty due to injury scored a century in their victory over Wanganui High School.

At the same time, Collegiate's Premier 2 team defaulted their match with Saracens, who still showed up in six car loads expecting to play.

Players have vented their anger on Facebook, while Collegiate's points from Saturday's win could be in jeopardy when discussed by the Council of Clubs next week.

Collegiate may yet also default their final game of the season due to lack of available players.

"I received a phone call this morning from the chairman that letters have been written to the board," said Cricket Wanganui's officer Dilan Raj yesterday.

He could make no further comment until that meeting, which is scheduled for next Monday.

However, Raj did say the rules were clear players deemed too injured to play representative games cannot play club cricket that weekend.

This made it fair, with every team expected to lose key squad members.

There can be exceptions for unavailablity United batsman Tom Lance has farm work while Marist's Brett Turner withdrew from the Hawke Cup match due to moving house and assisting his pregnant partner.

"We're a community that understands when these things happen," said Raj.

However, Barry Touzel, Collegiate's master in charge, said the Wanganui representative administrators never contacted Halbert about his alleged injury.

Touzel said the first he knew of any possible problem was when Chris Friedel, Council of Clubs chairman, approached him while Halbert was batting on Saturday.

"That's not allowed [in the rules]. They're right, I fully understand that.

"Andre was never informed about anything.

"There was no communication from the rep side. According to him, he was dropped.

"For us to not play him, he's a schoolkid, he's got to develop his cricket with us. They presumed he was injured."

Touzel took over running Collegiate's cricket programme from Raj this season.

He said he sent an email explaining their lack of numbers for the Premier 2 game to the Council of Clubs last Wednesday.

"I just heard [Saracens] went up. I went through the proper channels."

In email form, Touzel said it had been made clear to Wanganui cricket that Collegiate numbers could be an issue, as the final one-day game of the season will be 10 days after school finishes.

Sixty per cent of their students come from outside Wanganui, so getting them back or keeping them here for games was difficult, he said.

The weekend events have left a sour taste in the mouth of many in Wanganui's cricket fraternity.

United senior player Andrew Cording expressed his discontent on Sunday, despite his side potentially being advantaged by four guaranteed points from their Collegiate game in two weeks.

It was one team holding the entire competition up to mockery, he said.

Wanganui senior cricket manager Andrew Lock said he had heard Halbert had been injured in a net session and was having trouble with his shoulder.

It had to rankle, given Lock was stretched to put the Hawke Cup team together due to other injuries, while he watched captain Andrew McCaa gut out a painful hairline foot fracture to play.

It seemed to him like Collegiate trying to hang on to players to win matches or defaulting when they could not.

Wanganui High School often went into games without their best guys, knowing a hiding was likely, but they still fronted, he said.

"Winning is obviously good but you're developing boys to be future players in the game."

Next Monday, Raj intends to take a Wanganui Under 20 team to New Plymouth's Pukekura Park to play Taranaki Under 19.

Despite Raj being based on the Collegiate campus, Touzel said he knew nothing about the match.

The U20 team is expected to be the younger Hawke Cup squad members with other players from Wanganui High School and Collegiate.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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