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Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has disqualified seven teams – including semifinalists Nepal, Afghanistan and Hong Kong from the ACC U-15 Elite Cup 2007 for fielding over-age players. In absence of eight teams, the remaining two teams Singapore and Kuwait will contest for the title on Monday, December 2, an ACC press release added.

“Following the conclusion of the group stage on November 30, the only two countries with less than three over-age players in their squads are Kuwait and Singapore,” the ACC release states. “… that leaves only Kuwait and Singapore eligible for further competition. It is they who will contest the final.”

“In the instances where more than two players in each squad [consisting 14 players] have been found to be over-age, those teams have been disqualified from the competition,” ACC said. ACC had already disqualified UAE for not meeting the playing conditions rules that requires at least two passport holders of the country represented.

The decision was taken after the results of the Age-Verification Program conducted in Nepal during the event. “140 radiology examinations have been conducted in Nepal since the teams’ arrival with all the players from the ten participating teams,” the release said. According to ACC, some teams were found to have seven, eight or nine over-age players.

ACC, who introduced age-verification program in May 2005 to ensure that all competitors would be meeting on a fair and equitable basis, establishes a player’s bone-age maturity using Skeleton Maturity-TW3 method. The cut-off birthdates for the event was July 1, 1992.

“Our Age-Verification protocols have been tested and proven to work. We stand by the results found,” Haq said. “In the long-run cricket in Asia will benefit. Results such as this should act as an eye-opener to all our members.”

ACC has not clarified about the ranking and the two teams to be relegated to the lower division, the U-15 Challenge Cup in the statement.

RUTHLESS DECISION

Hong Kong coach Sher Lama termed the decision as ruthless one. “This is absolutely a ruthless decision,” he said.

“This is wrong time to take such decision. Since ACC knew this tournament is coming long ago, they should have done tests long before the tournament, not during the tournament,” he said.

Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) president Binaya Raj Pandey said he was surprised by the decision.

“It came as a big surprise to us, because we have provided all the necessary documents of the players to ACC prior to the event and they didn’t say anything on that,” Pandey reacted. “We did the tests of all players ourselves before choosing the team.”

Pandey added it’s bad for both the teams and organizer. “Either it should be done before the event starts or it should be done after completion,” he added. “Disgracing young kids is not good.”

Here is the complete ACC Press Release issued on Saturday evening:
ACC PRESS RELEASE
U-15 ACC ELITE AGE-VERIFICATION PROGRAM RESULTS ISSUED

Kuala Lumpur, December 1 2007
The results of the Age-Verification Program conducted in Nepal during the ACC U-15 Elite Cup have been released. 140 radiology examinations have been conducted in Nepal since the teams’ arrival with all the players from the ten participating teams.

The Asian Cricket Council Age-Verification Program has been in place for all age-group competitions since May 2005. It was introduced to ensure that all competitors would be meeting on a fair and equitable basis on the criteria of actual age.

Age-discrepancies among competitors lead to performance advantages for older players and injury-risks for the younger ones. The Asian Cricket Council’s U-15 Tournaments, as with its U-17 and U-19 tournaments are held to be just that – for those players who are the appropriate age.

As it is commonly understood that in Asia, many players and Associations are unaware of their actual date of birth, the Age-Verification program establishes a player’s bone-age maturity using the Assessment of Skeletal Maturity-TW3 method. The cut-off date for players’ birthdates is July 1,1992 for this tournament. No player with a physiological or administrative age earlier than this date is eligible to play in the 2007 ACC U-15 tournament.

All countries were asked to provide the appropriate medical data on each of their players before the tournament started. They did not comply. Following bone-age examinations of all players in Kathmandu, a number from all the participating teams – Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand – have been found to be over the age-limit criteria. Each participating country consists of 14 squad-members. In the instances where more than two players in each squad have been found to be over-age, those teams have been disqualified from the competition.

Following the conclusion of the group stage on November 30, the only two countries with less than three over-age players in their squads are Kuwait and Singapore. In some instances, participating squads have had seven, eight and nine over-age players.

With the tournament having passed the group-stages, that leaves only Kuwait and Singapore eligible for further competition. It is they who will contest the Final on Monday December 3rd .

Syed Ashraful Huq the Chief Executive of the Asian Cricket Council said, “Our Age-Verification protocols have been tested and proven to work. We stand by the results found and take heart that the integrity of our tournaments is assured. In the long-run cricket in Asia will benefit. Results such as this should act as an eye-opener to all our members. Our principles will always remain true to the secure development of cricket.”