CRICKET was the big loser on Sunday as holders Waringstown went out of the NCU Challenge Cup following a bowl out at Wallace Park.
The villagers, who were strong favourites to beat Lisburn and reach the last four, were left hugely disappointed after the home side refused to switch the tie to The Lawn despite their own ground being unplayable.
Play was never likely to be possible at Wallace Park after heavy rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and Waringstown made several offers to Lisburn to instead switch to The Lawn, which was playable, and avoid the lottery of a bowl-out.
But on a day when tempers became heated, David Simpson turned down Waringstown’s requests in favour of the bowl-out which the home side won 4-3. Lisburn, who have won just one of eight matches on the field this season, are through to a semi-final at North Down with the villagers left disconsolate.
The umpires Keith Smith and Alex Adams, who ruled that the ground was unplayable, also indicated they were willing to officiate in a game at The Lawn, just 16 miles away, but again this offer was not taken up by Simpson, who was within his rights to opt for a bowl-out.
Lisburn’s actions, which were largely criticised by players and supporters of other clubs across the NCU, contrasted sharply with section one club Downpatrick, who had publicly committed to moving their tie with North Down to The Green should The Meadow be unplayable.
Kyle McCallan, the Waringstown captain, admitted he was bitterly disappointed to exit the competition.
“I’m very disappointed that we weren’t able to play cricket and to go out of the competition in this fashion,” he said. “It was a deeply unsatisfactory way to decide a game of this importance.”
The farcical outcome will lead to renewed calls for an change in the Challenge Cup rules, forcing clubs to switch venues should their own grounds be unplayable and the opposition’s be declared fit.