Cricket Albury-Wodonga's finals are set to be robbed of one of its most explosive players after Wodonga star Theo Valeri was banned for the rest of the season for playing a game back home in Griffith.
The all-rounder, who was Riverina's best player in last Sunday's loss to the awesome Newcastle outfit in the NSW Country Championship grand final, played a match back at his home club in Griffith when CAW's round 19 on February 13 was unable to be played due to Victoria's COVID lockdown.
"He won't be allowed to play for Wodonga for the rest of the year," CAW chairman Michael Erdeljac said.
Valeri approach cricket officials in his home town to make sure he was allowed to play.
"They said you don't need a clearance, it's just a one-off week because it was COVID-related, so I played," Valeri said yesterday.
However, under CAW's rules, under the headline The Players, rule 1.6.1 (a) states "No senior player shall play with more than one CAW club or with any club affiliated with the VCCL or the NSWCCA in any one season unless a clearance has been granted. Should this occur, the player will be suspended until the end of that current season."
While some will argue Valeri or his advisers should have read the relevant section in the CAW rules, it just sums up his season.
Billed as the premiers' gun recruit, Valeri has played just five games, missing most of those as he lived outside the Border bubble and therefore wasn't able to travel into Victoria for home games.
He also tore his groin in the last game before Christmas and was forced to miss last weekend's game as Riverina players were asked to step down to allow them to travel for the representative match in Goulburn, which is a three and three-quarter hour drive.
"The rules are quite clear, that's what it states," a disappointed Wodonga president Brad Andrews said.
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Valeri made 55 runs at 14 and took eight wickets at 20.
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"It's been a very frustrating year, but I'll come back next year, hopefully everything (COVID) is clear by then."
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