Monday, May 09, 2005

Who Cares What Keith Piper Is Smoking?

To get back to the most important thing in life - cricket - there are two major stories coming out of the game this week (county-wise, at least). The first is that Keith Piper is to face an ECB disciplinary hearing after testing positive for a recreational drug during the recent Warwickshire-Glamorgan game; the second is that Surrey have been docked runs and face a hearing of their own for ball-tampering in their game against Nottinghamshire (not that it did them any good).

The outlook for Piper is not good - the two previous cases I can think of involving recreational drug use are Graeme Wagg and Ed Giddins; both of them were suspended for a hefty period (15 months and 19 months respectively). That said, Piper has failed a test for cannabis before and only received a one-match suspension.

Even so, I want to know what business it is for the ECB to be testing for the use of recreational drugs. Why does it matter? If the drug isn't performance enhancing, then it is of no consequence whatsoever to the board. The "role model" argument doesn't hold up here either - if they weren't testing for recreational drugs then no-one would have known what he was up to. It doesn't affect the game and the publicity it is bound to attract can only have a derogatory effect.

Surrey's actions, on the other hand, were against both the spirit and the letter of the game in every way possible. They really were trying to gain an unfair advantage in their match. They fully deserved the stuffing that they got. If the specific culprit cannot be found and suspended, then they should suspend the on-field captain for a number of games. An example needs to be made of this issue to send out the message that cheating in such a flagrant fashion is unacceptable. And the player or players responsible need to own up to their actions and admit to what they have done.