Middlesex ‘disappointed’ by over rate penalty after Oval abandonment

Middlesex have expressed their “extreme disappointment” at the ECB’s decision to dock them points for a slow over rate after their game at The Oval was abandoned when a crossbow bolt was fired on to the pitch.

The players were taken from the field after the projectile landed near the square shortly after tea on the fourth day and, after consultation with police, the match was called off as a draw.

Middlesex were batting at the time, 181 runs ahead having steered their second innings away from danger. Although they were behind on their over rate, they could still have looked to make it up by declaring and bowling again. The club said the abandonment “denied Middlesex the small amount of time need to restore the over rate to the required level”.

However, the ECB has now decided to dock Middlesex two points (for being two overs behind), in accordance with the playing conditions.

“Naturally this is an extremely disappointing decision,” Middlesex’s chief executive, Richard Goatley, said. “We have had several lengthy conversations with the ECB over the past few days and asked them to consider the unique and non-cricket related circumstances surrounding the match’s abandonment but ECB decided the penalty should stand.

“We have been advised that since the ECB has chosen to follow the published playing conditions in this instance, there is no scope for any further appeal. It remains for the players to maximise the points we take in the final few games to mitigate this loss as much as possible.”

Middlesex, the 2016 champions, are currently third from bottom, level with Yorkshire on 114 points. Somerset, in the second relegation spot, are 13 points behind with three rounds of the Championship to play.

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