Middlesex are to request a hearing with the ECB in an attempt to have the points deduction from their Championship match at The Oval revoked.
Middlesex were penalised two points for a slow over-rate after that game against Surrey was abandoned following an incident when a bolt was fired onto the pitch by a crossbow. The early abandonment of the game denied Middlesex the opportunity to catch up on their over-rate.
They claim that, at the time, the match officials assured them there would be no penalty in recognition of the extraordinary nature of events.
But with Middlesex finishing the season in the relegation positions – and just one point behind Somerset – the decision to overturn the penalty could have far-reaching consequences. It would, in short, see Somerset relegated instead and mean that, for two years in succession, relegation is decided not on the pitch but in committee rooms. Durham were relegated at the end of the 2016 season after falling into financial difficulty, with Hampshire reprieved in their place.
“We feel that what has happened to us is unjust,” Middlesex’s chief executive, Richard Goatley, told ESPNcricinfo. “We feel we have an extremely strong case for having those points reinstated and my role, as chief executive, is to make that case on behalf of the club and our supporters to the ECB.
“We will write to the ECB and ask for a hearing. We are not asking to have any points deducted from another team, just for points that we have previously won to be reinstated. We are the team that scored more points.”
Goatley accepts that the situation is “far from ideal” and maintains the club have no intention of taking legal action against the ECB. He also knows there is no appeal process to cope for such an eventuality.
“I can’t believe the ECB won’t give us a hearing,” Goatley said. “The decision to take those two points has turned out to be incredibly consequential and, as the governing body, they have the power to overturn that decision.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo