County news August 12, 2013

Surrey critical of Batty's ban

Surrey have criticised the ECB's decision to ban their captain, Gareth Batty, for two games following his altercation with Somerset's Peter Trego during the Friend Life t20 quarter-final at The Oval. The ban means Batty will miss Finals Day on August 16.

Batty, the Surrey captain, was found guilty of two level two breaches of the ECB's code of conduction relating to "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact" and "using language or a gesture that is obscene or of a serious insulting nature".

The incident occurred when Trego was bowled by Batty and began walking back to the pavilion, which took him towards Surrey's celebrating players. Batty was then seen to collide with Trego, whether by accident or on purpose, while also mouthing obscenities towards him.

While Surrey have accepted that Batty was wrong to have used insulting language, they insist that any physical contact was accidental and feel the ECB should have convened a full disciplinary panel. That, Surrey claim, would have afforded Batty the opportunity to explain his actions and view the video footage alongside the panel and other witnesses.

"Having now studied the evidence available the club does not yet understand why he has also been found guilty of a deliberate act to physically confront Trego," Surrey's chief executive Richard Gould said.

"The video shows him veering away from the pitch with his eyes focused on the wicketkeeper when the seemingly accidental contact with Trego takes place. The ECB's cricket discipline commission obviously viewed the matter very seriously given both the public comments on Friday and the decision to ban Gareth from Finals Day.

"The club would have preferred for a full disciplinary panel to have been convened so the full facts could have been established in the most transparent manner possible, and hope that it is not too late to still do so. The club believe that there are a number of uneven mechanisms within the CDC's processes and we will be providing the ECB with a summary of constructive observations."

Batty said: "I always play the game with passion and determination. But I sincerely apologise for the verbal exchange that took place during the quarter final. I am very disappointed that I will not be able to lead the team for FLt20 Finals Day on Saturday.

"However, I find it difficult to accept the second charge and the comments which stated that I deliberately sought to confront Peter Trego in a physical manner; which I believe video footage does not support and I categorically deny. I've been handed a significant punishment and had some very upsetting and unfair comments made about my character."

Gerard Elias QC, the chairman of the cricket discipline commission (CDC), described Batty's behaviour as "appalling" and said he did consider whether further action should be taken along with the immediate suspension but decided not to refer the matter to a disciplinary panel.

"Plainly, he acted contrary to the spirit of the game and in a way which brings cricket into disrepute and failed to set the leadership example expected," Elias said. "Not only was he involved in deliberately and inappropriately physically confronting a batsman he had just dismissed, he subsequently engaged in a foul-mouthed tirade at the batsman."

While Surrey feel Batty's punishment is harsh, they hold no hope of it being overturned ahead of Finals Day.

In accordance with ECB rules, Batty's ban was actually automatic once he was reported by the umpires and the CDC. The penalty for a first level two offence is three points and the penalty for a second level two offence within 24 months is six points. Batty has therefore received a total of nine penalty points, which triggers an automatic suspension for a period of two matches. The only area of discretion for the CDC was delaying the suspension so that it covered t20 finals day.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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