Lancashire hit back at ‘gut wrenching’ points deduction as fading title bid ends

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Lancashire have hit back at a “gut wrenching” six-point deduction that extinguished their fading hopes of staying in the LV= County Championship title picture.

The Red Rose county already looked to be out of contention after a drawn Roses match left them 29 points adrift of Division One leaders Hampshire, having played one game more, but that gap has now been extended to a distant 35.

The penalty was imposed by the Cricket Discipline Commission, activating part of a suspended 12-point sanction first issued in November 2021 and relating to a series of incidents dating back as far as September 2020.

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Two further breaches of the code followed this year, with Dane Vilas and Luke Wells both guilty of “minimum level 1 offences”, leading to the punishment being handed down.

Lancashire had argued at their hearing that a new code of conduct had been adopted since the initial penalty was introduced and that the only transgressions since had been minor.

In a statement, the club “acknowledges and respects the decision” but also stressed “dissatisfaction” at the outcome.

Director of cricket Mark Chilton said: “Following all our hard work throughout the winter and in the County Championship this season, to be deducted points for what are, in our opinion, minor discretions is gut wrenching.

Dane Vilas was one of two players to pick up disciplinary penalties this season.
Dane Vilas was one of two players to pick up disciplinary penalties this season (Mike Egerton/PA)

“In our opinion, both fixed penalties we received were unduly harsh punishments, which could have gone either way, and it is this inconsistency in the decision making that makes this difficult to take.”

Chilton also called on the ECB to look into umpiring as part of its ongoing high performance review, suggesting shows of dissent would be curbed by access to a decision review system.

“We recognise umpiring is a challenging job and mistakes will happen, but at present there isn’t enough accountability surrounding their decisions and too much subjectivity still exists. The sooner we can provide additional support by way of technology and improved processes, the better,” he said.

“Both of our incidents could have been avoided with an ability to review the decisions, and the sooner this is in place, the better.”