Bold late appeal could alter GMC finals make-up

By Fraser Walker-Pearce

MOAMA’S dreams of a Goulburn Murray Cricket semi-final clash may be dashed at the last hurdle — again.

The club knocked Echuca out of the top four in dramatic fashion on the final day with an outright win over Echuca South.

Moama gained 18 points rather than the 12 for a regular win to secure the last finals’ spot.

But Echuca has lodged an appeal with Goulburn Murray Cricket, stating an ineligible player was fielded for South during the match.

It is alleged the player in question played for Moama earlier in the season and, after a stint away from the game, returned on the weekend to play for Echuca South — against Moama.

A tribunal of three independent members will hear Echuca’s case tomorrow night at the Moama Bowling Club and will decide the consequences, if any.

If it is found South fielded an ineligible player, the game is likely to be forfeited.

That means Moama would not have won outright and only gains 12 points from the match — not enough to stay in the finals.

Echuca Cricket Club secretary Jeff Shannon said the club’s appeal was not directed at Moama or Echuca South in particular, it was more about the GMC’s bylaws.

‘‘Our understanding of the bylaws is that when a player has played for a club and has not been cleared to play for another club, he is an invalid player and (when they play) the game is declared a forfeit,’’ Shannon said.

‘‘Under GMC forfeiture rules, a new set of rules come into effect. That means the game is scrapped and the other side is awarded the maximum points gained by any club in that round (which was 12). But the game was allowed to continue and we feel the bylaws around fielding an ineligible player were not followed on this occasion.’’

GMC cricket operations manager James Stokes said Moama should not be blamed for Echuca South’s ‘‘administration deficiencies’’ and that a fair hearing will be held tomorrow.

‘‘We’re in this position because the GMC took a stand against Echuca South as a board, and we had to look at what that would do to the final round,’’ Stokes said.

‘‘The competition was evenly poised on Monday and that shows you how close it really is.

‘‘We will penalise South for their administration deficiencies, but we can’t tell you what those penalties are.

‘‘We could have pulled the pin on the whole game, but at that point it would have given other teams in the competition a free hit.

‘‘Whatever the decision on Thursday we’ve only decided in the best interests of the competition.’’