Leicestershire given 16-point penalty after Shreck offence
Leicestershire will start their Championship season with a 16-point penalty under the totting-up procedure after a pre-season offence by Charlie Shreck
Leicestershire have been hit by a 16-point penalty and seen their captain suspended on the eve of the County Championship season.
The club were punished following an incident in which their veteran seamer Charlie Shreck was found to have used obscene language or gestures in the match against Loughborough MCCU last week after being reported by umpires Steve O'Shaughnessy and James Middlebrook. That meant the club had been penalised five times within 12 months resulting in a one-match suspension for Mark Cosgrove as he has been the captain on all five occasions.
Cosgrove's one-match suspension will apply to the Specsavers County Championship match between Leicestershire and Glamorgan which starts on April 21, pending any appeal which may be lodged.
On the eve of the Championship season, Leicestershire therefore became the second county tin the second division to begin the summer with a points deduction. Durham start on minus 48 after a financial bale-out by the ECB in October came with points deductions and relegation as a warning to other counties not to turn to the governing body as the lender of last resort.
Leicestershire were also fined £5,000 with a further suspended penalty of eight points, to be imposed if cricketers playing for the county incur a further two Fixed Penalty breaches in any competition within a period of 12 months from the date of the hearing.
While the ECB's disciplinary panel - chaired by Tim O'Gorman, alongside Mike Smith and Anita George JP - noted that the club has taken internal action against Shreck by suspending him for two games, they also concluded that "actions taken by the club since the previous Disciplinary Panel Hearing have not been effective."
"It's a harsh penalty, but we have to accept it," Wasim Khan, the club's CEO, told ESPNcricinfo. "I think the ECB are probably trying to make an example of us on the eve of the season and to have three different sanctions does seem harsh.
"But we can't moan as we have no one to blame but ourselves. We've had 10 breaches in three years and this shows that we haven't learned our lessons.
"We will look at our internal policies and we will stamp this out.
"We were going into this season with high hopes and this will make the club suffer. A tough season just became a lot tougher."
Cosgrove responded on BBC Radio Leicestershire: "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."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo