NEWCASTLE Cricket Zone has overturned the controversial suspensions of four former City and Suburban board members, ruling their ousting from the game invalid.
Dan Saunders, Andrew Kelly, Roy Capitao and Grant Hutchings were informed on Tuesday morning that their suspensions had been set aside following a ruling by a specially convened Newcastle Cricket Zone review committee.
Last year, a bitter internal free-for all erupted over the Newcastle City and Suburban Cricket Association's (NCSCA) financials, resulting in the four board members - part of the faction pushing for change - being summonsed to appear before the judiciary, for administrative deeds, and being handed lengthy bans from the game and sacked from the board.
All four appealed their suspensions to Newcastle Cricket Zone that ruled the men were inappropriately charged for alleged administrative deeds under the competition rule book.
It also found the NCSCA judiciary did not have the power to suspend board members, the men were not provided with all the evidence against them and were asked to prove why they were "not guilty of the charges".
"This statement prior to the hearing of evidence from witnesses could be interpreted as assuming the guilt of the accused," the Newcastle Cricket Zone decision reads.
"This deprives an accused person from answering charges and rather reverses the onus of proof requiring an accused person to prove their innocence when they are unaware of the evidence that may exist in the matter."
Zone cricket administrator Alan Nichols said the correct procedures were not followed, so all administrative and playing suspensions had been overturned.
"NSW Cricket says we have jurisdiction over the C&S and all convictions have been set aside," he said.
Mr Saunders, who was NCSCA registrar before his suspension, said he was relieved that the lengthy ordeal was finally over.
"We certainly feel vindicated in our actions," he said. "We did what we did for the bettterment of cricket in Newcastle. To have independent eyes look over this and for this be the outcome, it's great."
The troubled NCSCA is now facing an exodus of players and clubs in its 100th year to a new rival competition, Suburban Districts, being developed by the Newcastle District Cricket Association.
NCSCA president Phil Northey said the competition did not recognise any decisions made by Newcastle Cricket Zone because it had "no jurisdiction" over the C&S competition.
"The suspensions still stand and will continue to stand," he said. "They have got no authority over us."
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