SOMETHING strange happened in the Bernard Tollett Oxfordshire Cup tie between Oxford and Horspath at Roman Way – penalty runs for failing to bowl the overs in the allotted time.

Oxford made 115-4, but this was increased by six runs to 121 as Horspath hadn’t started their 20th over within the one hour and 15 minutes allowed.

Horspath then saw their 109-6 increased to 115 after Oxford were penalised for failing to start their last over inside the allotted time.

To spectators – who believed Horspath needed 18 to win off the last over and not 12 as was the case – this only became apparent after the innings was completed.

It was a totally unsatisfactory state of affairs and took the gloss of what had been a competitive game played in a good spirit with no time-wasting.

No blame could be attached to the umpires. They were simply applying the rules.

However, it’s not the first time the situation has arisen this season with Thame Town captain Mike Higgs complaining that their Home Counties Premier League Twenty20 tie against Shipton-under-Wychwood had been ruined by the award of 12 penalty runs to their opponents.

These instances should serve as a warning to the Oxfordshire Cup organisers, the Oxfordshire Cricket Board.

Imagine the scene. One side in the final makes 150-6, their opponents reach 145-6 after 19 overs.

A gripping finish is in store only for the bowling side to be told they will concede six penalty runs for failing to start their 20th over in the allotted time. Game over. A complete farce.

It seems the rules are passed down from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

But when applied to club grounds where the ball disappears into neighbouring fields, hedgerows and car parks they are far too stringent. At a time when clubs are continually reminded that their players should act within the ‘Spirit of Cricket’, the administrators should also remember their responsibilities.

In this instance, they are not aiding the ‘Spirit of Cricket’.

A more flexible approach is needed.