Leicestershire will start the championship season on Friday, against Nottinghamshire at Grace Road, with a 16-point penalty after their bowler Charlie Shreck became their fifth player to commit a disciplinary offence in the space of 12 months.
It is not so punitive as Durham’s 48-point penalty but still not what a struggling county needed after finishing bottom of the championship from 2013 to 2015.
Shrek was reported by umpires Steve O’Shaughnessy and James Middlebrook during Leicester-shire’s game against Loughborough MCCU on March 28 to 30.
Dean Cosker, the Cricket Liaison Officer, decided Shreck had committed a Level 1 breach for using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting and/or making an obscene gesture.
In consequence Leicestershire were charged with a breach of ECB Directive 3.5.19 because they had incurred five fixed penalty breaches in the space of 12 months, while their captain Mark Cosgrove, who was captain on each of these five occasions, has been given a one-match suspension.
Pending an appeal, Cosgrove will be suspended for Leicestershire's championship game against Glamorgan on April 21-24. In addition to the 16-point penalty with immediate effect, and a fine of £5,000, a further suspended penalty of eight points will be imposed on Leicestershire if their players incur two more Fixed Penalty breaches in the next 12 months in any competition.
These decisions were taken by a Disciplinary panel at the Fischer County Ground at Grace Road chaired by Tim O’Gorman, along with Mike Smith and Anita George MBE JP.
The Panel noted that actions taken by Leicestershire since the previous disciplinary hearing had not been effective but acknowledged that the club and captain had immediately pleaded guilty to the charges against them.
It is relevant that in recent years Leicestershire have lost all their local talent to wealthier counties, and have replaced it with players from outside, who may not feel the same pride in the county or their own standards of behaviour.
Cosgrove told BBC Radio Leicester:
"You play hard cricket and sometimes it boils over. This is a big punishment for us, it hurts the boys bad. Hopefully we can learn and get better. We have to be disciplined. If we don't learn now I'm not sure we ever will."
"Charlie is very disappointed and apologetic. He overstepped the mark. We've got to take it and move on."