Malick Kudmany, the unregistered player in question, was knowingly fielded twice by the club under another player’s name – once each for Weymouth’s first and second teams. Kudmany then played a third game, again for the Seasiders’ first team, under a second pseudonym.
After discovering the discrepancies, the Dorset Cricket League (DCL) slapped a 100-point deduction on Weymouth’s first team – 50 points per game Kudmany played – for misleading league officials.
Securing seven wins in the 2021 season, the Seasiders finished the campaign in fifth place on 215 points, some 73 points clear of the County Division One drop zone.
Weymouth successfully appealed the harshness of the penalty, however, the DCL reduced the first and second team’s total deduction to 80 and 25 points respectively.
Eighty points equates to four maximum-point victories.
It means the penalty was still narrowly sufficient enough to relegate Weymouth’s first team to Division Two by seven points.
Compton House are therefore reprieved from relegation, with Weymouth finishing in ninth and Beaminster in 10th.
Weymouth’s second team finished bottom of County Division Five North & West, regardless of the 25-point fine.
Weymouth chairman Simon Browne told Echosport: “This is obviously a devastating blow to the club, losing our (County Division One) status for reasons other than what took place on the cricket field in 2021.
“As soon as the committee became aware, we contacted the league and were nothing but compliant and co-operative in the hearings and other correspondence.
“I expected that we would lose the points from the games concerned, as is the case with most other sports in such a similar situation, and possibly get a small financial penalty or match ban for the individuals concerned.
“However, the actual punishment of 50 points per game, then reduced to 40 per game on appeal is in the opinion of the club, very unfair, especially as the points total represents the equivalent of four 20-point winning games.
“Also, to increase the penalty by five extra points for each subsequent game is not consistent with the other league regulations on player registration. This particular factor is significant, given the club has been relegated by just seven points.
“We were given no credit for our co-operation and nor was any reference made to the fact that Weymouth CC did not benefit from the registration issue, other than be able to field 11 players in a game, thereby avoiding league punishment for scratching games due to player availability.
“We have conducted our own internal enquiry and the club has put in steps to ensure that this situation should not occur again.
“Weymouth CC committee took the decision to support the captains rather than punish them further, hoping the individuals learn from it.
“Throwing the book at them – as the League have done with the club – would have demoralised all concerned and impacted our player numbers. This is something we can ill afford at present.
“We would now like to put this difficult period behind us and concentrate our efforts on readying the club for the 2022 season.”
DCL chairman Jon Ridout, on behalf of the League Management Committee, said: “The Dorset Cricket League requires that all players must be registered and that the agreed medium for this is Play-Cricket.
“The reason for players registering is so that the league knows who is participating in matches. It ensures that the club have a record of who is playing for their teams because the registration process collects personal data which a club may need.
“It is a comfort to parents and guardians that their young players are playing in an environment where participants have completed a basic form of ID. The data returned on the match scorecard was also used as the basis for Track and Trace during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Where a person plays under a false name it completely breaks the cycle of trust between player, club and league.
“In the circumstances with Weymouth there was no dispute that the club had played an unregistered player on three separate occasions using two different names, neither of which was the player’s true identity.
“This takes the matter far outside the normal scope of league rules which were designed to punish a one-off offence.
“In Weymouth’s case there must have been a number of parties involved in disguising the player’s ID. The club has not taken any action against the persons involved in the cover up.
“In respect to our disciplinary process the complaint was heard by three committee members and a decision made. The decision on a points deduction taken by this committee was 50 points per match which reflected the seriousness of the rule breach.
“This decision was appealed and a separate hearing took place with three other committee members. The appeals committee reviewed the evidence and found that there were no additional matters to support an appeal.
“They did review the penalty and imposed the following revised sanction which incrementally enhanced the penalty.
“The composition of the disciplinary and appeals subcommittee was structured so that any person whose club may have been affected by playing against Weymouth CC made themselves unavailable to serve on either committee.
“The full committee received reports from the original and appeals committee and ratified the decisions made.
“Committee members agreed that the points deduction has regard to the current league rules point deductions and the fact it was not a one-off, so the point deduction was incremental.
“The main committee did not make any directions to the disciplinary committee about any potential penalties.”
Kudmany, who was free to play in the Dorset Cricket League, has had previous disciplinary issues, including a lengthy 2015 ban imposed after being involved in an on-field incident playing for Old Bournemouthians against Hordle Village.
When contacted by Echosport, Kudmany said he used a different name to avoid harassment from other clubs and players relating to those past matters. He also offered his sympathy to Weymouth for their punishment.
Seasiders’ captain Harry Mitchell has been given a two-game ban for knowingly submitting a team sheet to officials containing a false name.
His ban is suspended until September 2022, owing to his outstanding work as a coach, volunteer and excellent previous behaviour.
Under the ruling, the DCL have established a precedent of penalties for an identical offence.
In the first instance, a club will sustain a 20-point penalty plus a deduction of points earned during the match in question.
This rises to 25 points plus deduction of points won in a second match and 30 plus deduction of points earned in a third match.
Article reproduced by kind permission of the Dorset Echo.