Celebrations in Somerset at their county side’s final day escape from relegation may yet have to be put on hold, pending a renewed appeal from bitter rivals Middlesex at the arguably season-deciding points deduction following the infamous Crossbow incident at the Oval.
The west country side missed out on a first-ever title triumph to Middlesex in 2016 but looked to have exacted revenge when a 231-run win over their rivals left the Oval-based side a single point and place below them, and crucially, occupying the second relegation spot.
Middlesex are appealing a points loss imposed for a slow over rate in their match against Surrey, which was abandoned after a crossbow bolt landed in the field.
Although no one was hurt, Surrey’s fielders and Middlesex batsmen John Simpson and Nick Compton were led from the field while armed police carried out a controlled evacuation of the thousand-strong crowd.
And Middlesex argue that the decision to abandon the match robbed them of the chance to improve their over-rate during the remainder of the session, thereby avoiding the points loss.
The county’s director of cricket Angus Fraser has claimed that, at the time, they were told would not be penalised.
"All of a sudden there's police running around the dressing rooms and you think there's more important things to do than hassling the umpires and you respect their position," he told BBC Sport.
"But all the information we had when we left the ground was that we were not going to lose the points. To suddenly find out that we do further down the line is pretty gut-wrenching."
An ECB decision to uphold the deduction in the face of an initial appeal on September 9th was described as “extremely disappointing” by Middlesex chief executive Richard Goatley
"We have had several lengthy conversations with the England and Wales Cricket board 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”, he told Get Surrey.
"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."
But after their relegation was confirmed, Goatley told ESPNcric.info: "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."
Michael Atherton's opinion
Former England test captain Michael Atherton believes they have a strong case for appeal.
"Middlesex were docked two points for a slow over rate which I think is wrong and in the end cost them relegation," he said.
"With those two points I think they will have been almost fourth in the County Championship. I'm amazed that it has stood.”
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