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Southampton Rangers president Randy Raynor has denied making the “unilateral decision” to exclude his club from this year’s Western Counties competition.
It is alleged the former fast bowler, who currently serves as vice-president of the Western Counties Cricket Association (WCCA), ordered his players to boycott the series in protest of his association’s decision to play matches at Somerset Cricket Club.
Raynor insists the venue change is “unconstitutional” but has dismissed claims he personally ordered his players not to play in this year’s Western Counties.
He said: “Rangers club met and decided not to play under the grounds of the wrongful venue change.”
WCCA affiliates voted in favour of staging the series at Somerset during a quorum held earlier this year, something ex-Rangers player and president John Tucker has no qualms about.
Even though Somerset is not affiliated with the association, Tucker claims the WCCA are still within their right to stage matches at their venue.
He said: “Randy said we are not playing because they changed the constitution to allow the match to be played at Somerset Cricket Club. But I played in Western Counties matches at Somerset on two occasions before.
“My first time in county I played at Somerset Cricket Club.
“Whoever won the cup could take the game wherever they wanted to go within the Western Counties boundaries. And in those days we played at Somerset Cricket Club.”
According to the WCCA’s constitution and bye-laws “under certain circumstances the central committee may consider other venues for playing purposes” at their own discretion.
Tucker said Rangers’ boycott has ruffled feathers at the club and he insists the team should’ve played – sentiments he is certain would’ve been echoed by competition co-founder and mentor Sheridan Raynor.
The legendary all-rounder remains hospitalized after suffering a stroke last December.
Tucker said: “As one of the founders of the Western Counties Sheridan would have wanted the players to play and would’ve been very upset that they didn’t.
“I am very disappointed that Rangers are boycotting the Western Counties final.
“Lots of Rangers’ members wanted the team to play in the Western Counties and they are very upset that they are not. A lot of them are saying this whole thing is ridiculous.
“Randy Raynor is the president of Rangers and vice-president of the Western Counties therefore he has enough influence to encourage Rangers to play.
“It’s a disgrace. It doesn’t make things right to boycott and there are a lot of people who are very upset about the decision.”
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.