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Rafiq question first arose in early 2007

The England and Wales Cricket Board revealed that Yorkshire were first made aware of the fact that Azeem Rafiq had not got a British passport no later than early last year.

The White Rose county were made to pay the ultimate price for playing the 17-year-old off-spinner in a Twenty20 Cup tie as they were thrown out of the competition.

And an ECB statement read: “In coming to their decision the panel took the view that this was a serious breach of the regulations and could not be passed over as a clerical error.

“In reaching its decision the panel accepted that there was no deliberate flouting of the regulations.

“But all counties are aware of the need to ensure compliance with the regulations, which are designed to ensure the smooth and fair running of the game of cricket.

“The panel find that Yorkshire were aware, no later than early 2007, that there were questions as to the player’s immigration status and were, therefore, put on notice properly to check his eligibility.

“This was not done even though on June 27, 2008 the player was making his debut.

“The panel took the view that in the circumstances of the situation the ECB did all it reasonably could to ensure that the Twenty20 Cup match between Durham and Yorkshire could go ahead on July 7, 2008.”

Yorkshire’s short statement added: “The club is extremely disappointed with this verdict, and is currently considering whether to lodge an appeal.

“This decision will be made within the next 24 hours. If an appeal hearing is required, it will be held in Taunton on Monday afternoon.”

The decision made at Old Trafford last night came as somewhat of a surprise to many people, who were expecting Yorkshire to be ordered to replay their final North Division game against Nottinghamshire.

A similar precedent had been set when Worcestershire were ordered to replay a NatWest Trophy tie against Gloucester-shire in 2000 after fielding a cup-tied 19-year-old bowler, Kabir Ali.

Bowler Maurice Chambers has also played for Essex without a British passport, only a Jamaican one.

The Tykes could also do worse than using Nottinghamshire spinner Graeme Swann’s comments as part of their defence.

The England off-spinner last night said: “I am surprised more than anything. I expected us to replay the game.

“Personally, I would probably say that it is (a bit unfair). If I was in Yorkshire’s boots, I would have probably been hoping for a replay.

“But I suppose the rules are there, and if you break them you have got to take whatever punishment is handed out.

“I feel sorry for the lad in question. He didn’t have a clue what was going on and he has become a bit like Jean-Marc Bosman – famous for doing nothing.”

Yorkshire captain Darren Gough has been rested for tomorrow’s County Championship clash at Kent. Batsman Gary Ballance, aged 18, was named in the squad.

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