Western Province Cricket Club win appeal; crowned champions

File image: Western Province Cricket Club

Western Province Cricket Club have have been confirmed as champions of the 2015-16 Western Province Cricket Association premier league, after winning an appeal over the alleged ineligibility of spin bowler Michael Rippon.

Earlier this year, a report from the Western Province Cricket Association’s local leagues committee claimed Western Province Cricket Club failed to register Rippon as an overseas player for the season.

“It was noticed that WPCC did not register Rippon as an overseas player for the 2015-16 season. WPCC has been found guilty for transgressing by-law five (c),” read a statement from the WPCA local leagues committee.

By-law five (c) states: “The names of all foreign players participating in the WPCA competitions must be registered in writing on the prescribed form (registration of foreign player/s) of the WPCA with the club cricket co-ordinator or his delegate prior to their playing.

“Registration of foreign players may not occur later than 12h00 on the Friday prior to the first day’s play at the commencement of the second half of the season.”

Western Province CC. however, appealed the decision – which has since been overturned.

“Having noted the full suite of arguments put forward by the respective parties, the committee concluded that the sanction imposed by the LLC was not proportionate to fit the alleged offence and, to some extent may potentially induce a sense of shock to the broader cricketing federation, if upheld. In so doing, the LLC would have jeopardised the entire season, not only for the individual involved, but for the entire team, coaching staff and management of WPCC, solely on the basis of a purely administrative error on the part of WPCC,” read an extract from appeals board convenor Raffique Motala’s findings document.

“In addition, the committee held that the LLC and Western Province Cricket Association have a reciprocal duty, as the overarching umbrella regulatory body, to ensure that foreign players are, in fact, registered timeously. Noting this, Rippon’s status as a foreign player was no secret to the WPCA and his status as a foreign player has successfully been noted in previous seasons.

“To this end, the committee was of the view that WPCC did not possess the necessary intent to bring the game into disrepute and at all times managed Rippon’s status as a foreign player, when making team selections so to ensure that it was not in breach of the by-laws regarding the fielding of more than one foreign player in any specific game. In conclusion, the committee rules that the decision of the LLC be overruled for the various reasons outlined above. As such, any previous sanction imposed on WPCC by the LLC shall be withdrawn with immediate effect.”

WPCC won’t represent Western Province at the 2016 National Club Championship – a competition traditionally reserve for the South Africa’s 12 best club teams, though.

Prior to the 2015-16 season, under instruction from Cricket South Africa, the WPCA announced that any team in pursuit of the premier league title – and National Club Championship qualification – must have a minimum of two players of colour, one of which must be ‘black African’, in their playing XI for at least 50 percent of their fixtures.

WPCC and second-placed Rondebosch Cricket Club failed to comply, leaving third-placed Cape Town Cricket Club – who were ultimately deemed compliant – as the National Club Championship team nominated by WPCA.

Meanwhile, Western Province Cricket Club will be allowed to play in the Ama20 Competition final against the University of Western Cape Cricket Club at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday, 16 April. The fixture, originally scheduled for 8 April, had been postponed due to the appeal.

Primrose Cricket Club, who lost to WPCC in the semi-final, would have replaced WPCC in the final – had the WPCA upheld their original decision about Rippon’s alleged ineligibility.

Born and schooled in Cape Town, the 24-year-old Rippon played for the Cape Cobras prior to representing the Netherlands by virtue of his Dutch descent. He was a member of the Dutch squad for the World Twenty20 in India last month. He is the son of Western Province Cricket Club chairman Grattan Rippon.