For members and supporters that may be querying the team selections for the weekend:
As most know- the positive effect that Kenroy had last year on the club in terms of junior development and parental involvement led us to re-sign him in November last year. Because his most recent first class games were more than 2 years ago the only visa type open to him this year was a Tier 5 Creative and Sporting visa (coach only). In previous years (including 2018) local clubs employed individuals on this visa and they coached and played in league and cup competitions. WDCU and Cricket Scotland were happy with this situation.
In February this year all clubs in Scotland were circulated a document from the Home Office via the ECB regarding the definitions of ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ players. There has been significant tightening of the rules regarding this. This prompted some clubs (including Ayr) to change their plans regarding bringing an amateur player over. Within the document circulated was also a suggestion that individuals on a ‘coach only’ visa shouldn’t be playing. It wasn’t clear whether this was an ECB directive or a Home Office rule. Nowhere in the visa application process or on the Home Office website is it clear. WDCU and Cricket Scotland were understandably unable to be definitive about this and 2 direct communications to the Home Office failed to achieve a definitive answer. Given the importance of Kenroy to the club and local community and this lack of clarity we made the decision to stick to our plans and welcomed Kenroy in April. Every day (!) since he has been involved with coaching kids in local schools, at our junior nights and taking young players for individual tuition. This on top of developing our senior teams and putting in steady performances for the first eleven. More than ever we are certain that the medium term future of our club is closely aligned to the coaching and mentoring that Kenroy brings.
Sadly two clubs within our league made formal complaints to the WDCU that they believed we were breaking rules. This prompted Cricket Scotland to make a direct approach to the Home Office querying whether someone on this visa could play. The Home Office replied last Friday (31st May) that there was NO reason that an individual on this type of visa shouldn’t play. This was, for us, confirmation that it was an ECB directive and that in law we were correct with our interpretation. Last Wednesday (5th June) Cricket Scotland received a further communication from the Home Office stating that an individual on this type of visa shouldn’t play. No explanation either of the rule or the U-turn was offered.
Since then (and for some time before) we have been in communication with WDCU and Cricket Scotland regarding the issue. Both bodies are broadly supportive of what we are trying to do as a club but obviously are obliged to follow Home Office regulations.
We have contacted 2 MPs and a member of the House of Lords who have committed to raising this issue with both the Sports Minister and the Immigration Minister. Hopefully common sense will prevail. To suggest that Kenroy was good enough last year to play for us but this year isn’t is clearly nonsense. It would seem that by being forward thinking and investing in our juniors we are to be punished by not being allowed to play an overseas pro. Our contention is that this ruling, whilst possibly serving a purpose in some of the higher professional leagues in England serves no purpose for grassroots clubs there or club cricket in general in Scotland. It can only reduce the quality of coaching if clubs are forced to decide between employing a player or a coach.
In the meantime we have taken the decision to rest Kenroy from playing in order to avoid further confusion and possible sanctions.
As a club we are saddened by this turn of events- particularly by the actions of the two complaining clubs. If by doing this anyone believes Scottish Cricket will benefit we strongly disagree. We believe this ‘rule’ is wrong and if we have to fight it alone as a club we will. We appreciate the support so far offered by WDCU and Cricket Scotland and would hope the majority of other clubs would also support our stance.
If any supporters wish to help us in our efforts to get this ruling overturned please contact local MP Bill Grant and/or attempt to contact the Home Office Visa and Immigration department.
(Chairman Ayr CC)