Twenty20 Cup July 10, 2008

Yorkshire thrown out of Twenty20 Cup

Cricinfo staff

Azeem Rafiq: the 17-year-old at the centre of the storm © PA Photos

Yorkshire have been excluded from this year's Twenty20 Cup after fielding an ineligible player, the 17-year-old offspinner Azeem Rafiq, during their match against Nottinghamshire on June 27. The club have been fined £1000, with the points now awarded to Nottinghamshire who will face Durham in the last quarter-final.

Yorkshire's quarter-final clash against Durham was due to take place on July 7 but the match was abandoned mere minutes before the players took to the field. It soon arose that Rafiq, a former England Under-15 captain, was not officially registered as to play first-class cricket in England. An ECB disciplinary committee met at Old Trafford this afternoon, and although there was the possibility of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire replaying their match, the ECB have chosen not to.

"In coming to their decision the panel took the view that this was a serious breach of the regulations and could not be passed over as a clerical error," the ECB said. "In reaching the decision, the panel accepted that there were no deliberate flouting of the regulations but all counties are aware of the need to ensure compliance with the regulations which are designed to ensure the smooth and fair running of the game of cricket

"The panel find that Yorkshire were aware, no later than early 2007, that there were questions as to the player's immigration status and were, therefore, put on notice properly to check his eligibility. This was not done even though on June 27, 2008, the player was making his debut.

"The panel took the view, in the circumstances, that it is felt the ECB did all it reasonably could to ensure the Twenty20 Cup match between Durham and Yorkshire could go ahead on July 7."

Yorkshire said they are considering an appeal: "The club is extremely disappointed with this verdict and is currently considering whether to lodge an appeal. This decision will be made within the next 24 hours. If an appeal hearing is required it will be held in Taunton on Monday afternoon."

Durham, who were left red-faced when they turned away a packed home crowd of 6000 for their match against Yorkshire, will now face Nottinghamshire to decide who reaches Finals Day on July 26. However, the club are not happy because they won't be able to field the side they would have done in the original fixture with Shaun Pollock having left for his commentary duties.

"Given the nature of the circumstances there wasn't ever going to be a satisfactory outcome, even if we had been allowed to proceed to Finals Day," said chief executive David Harker. "Obviously this requirement to rearrange and play a quarter final causes us a significant competitive disadvantage if we are not able to field the same team that would have played on Monday but, we will be considering our options and looking at when that quarter final might take place."

Middlesex, Essex and Kent have already progressed to Finals Day, which will take place at The Rose Bowl on July 26.