Hindsight is Twenty20
The clock is ticking and Twenty20 finals day at the Rose Bowl is threatened with being turned into a farce. Semi-finals can only be played between four teams and not four plus whoever else feels it unfair that Yorkshire fielded a player they shouldn't have done against Nottinghamshire on 27 June.
Those who are responsible for the error must feel bad enough over this so let them be. Those who travelled to watch the match may not feel so generous and, as long as they have never made a mistake in their working life, they have every right to be annoyed.
I was of the opinion, and stress was, that whilst accepting the issue was a simple error Yorkshire should be thrown out of the Cup. That is a view shared by Durham. They plan to appeal if any option other than to award them a bye straight to the finals day is reached.
It is an understandable position. Play the quarter-final match and they could lose. I imagine they've invested a lot into the signings of Albie Morkel and Shaun Pollock for example. They've missed out on a big pay day at Lord's in the Friends Provident Trophy so now perhaps whatever money they would make on a second go at a home quarter-final tie is nothing compared with what stands to be made by progressing in the competition.
It's a fair question to ponder. If not for the cash potentially up for grabs in the international Champions League this would not be the talking point it is.
The problem for captain Dale Benkenstein and his team is travelling from Uxbridge on the evening of Sunday 20 July to play the quarter-final at the Riverside on the Monday. Durham certainly would be at a disadvantage.
A solution perhaps would be to play the game in the south on Monday 21 July and share the money with the host ground and club. Durham's next fixture is on the Wednesday at home to Somerset. Middlesex have come to an arrangement with Surrey to use the Oval for their quarter-final. Why can't something like wise happen here?
However the quarter-final must take place and it should be played against either Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire. The precedent is set. I can see little to differentiate this from the NatWest Trophy match of 2000 when Worcestershire were ordered to replay Gloucestershire after a 19 year old, Kabir Ali, played for Worcestershire when he was cup-tied. Gloucestershire went on to win the game and the trophy.
I fail to see how the issue of why Azeem Rafiq was allowed to play for and captain the England under 15's and 16's should have any bearing on the Twenty20 Cup. It's amazing it happened and needs dealing with and explaining, but at another time.
Also the young man in question must be given the fullest support over this. It appears he's an innocent victim in it all.
So come on, ECB, get it sorted. Bring the meeting forward from Thursday. You don't need all these people in the same room at the same time.
Yorkshire should be fined, and heavily, and give the money to Durham. Order a replay with Nottinghamshire on Friday 18 July and play the quarter-final on Monday 21 July. Yes, Durham are right to feel badly done by but remember: Think only of yourselves at this time and you might find it's you on the wrong side one day. I wonder if Yorkshire are now wishing they hadn't made such a fuss over the flood issue involving Worcestershire and Kent last summer.
Let us also consider the risk Yorkshire would take playing two more matches and not eventually making the finals. The costs involved on top of a fine and disappointing crowds for the Twenty20 Cup could make life hard.
You can be sure every county will detail a member of staff today to make sure every registration of every player, especially those not English-qualified, is water tight.
Final thoughts on why it was left so late to call the game off: Well, it should have all come to light before last night in an ideal world. Even if it hadn't done so until a minute before the match, anyone with such information had to raise it to maintain the integrity of the competition.