Oakham Cricket Club are hoping to avoid a relegation battle after being given a 48-point deduction for accidentally fielding an unregistered player.
Leicestershire Cricket League took the 24-point win off Oakham 1sts from the game against Shepshed Messengers in division three and docked them another 24 points.
The move put them second from bottom last week and only a fine win against Newton Linford lifted them to third from bottom.
The team now find themselves trying to avoid a relegation battle and club captain Nick Begy said the consequences of going down would be disastrous.
New rules coming in next year would mean Oakham would have to make ground improvements to even qualify for promotion.
Begy said: “We feel the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It was an oversight, we thought the player was registered as he was playing on a Sunday, but he wasn’t.
“In the game he bowled six overs and didn’t take any wickets, but Shepshed still complained.
“I know rules are rules but because of the restructure regarding facilities, if we were to go down it could be disastrous and we are disappointed by the decision.”
If Oakham were relegated to division four, to quality for promotion they would have to add an electronic scoreboard and fixed practice nets.
The changes are not out of the question but the Lime Kilns doesn’t have the space at present for the nets and it would be extra pressure they didn’t need.
Of the registration error, Begy said: “It’s a mistake you only make once.”
He added he hoped the deduction would galvanise the team.
And it appeared to do so on Saturday against Newton Linford 2nds.
Oakham batted first and needed only three batsmen to take the score to 248-1 in 45 overs. Albert Radford carried his bat for 102no and he was superbly supported by Chris Larsen with 80no and Jamie McCormack with 47.
In reply Newton were unable to come to terms with the superb seam bowling of Cameron Down who took 5-24 to take his tally to 15 wickets in his last three matches.
With Shaym Lakhani and Jamie Oakley chipping in with two wickets each Newton Linford were bundled out for 121 securing a much needed 24 points for the Lime Kilns side.
l Oakham Saturday 2nds played Ratby 2nds away and were looking for a win to move into the top half of the table.
After losing the toss and being put in on a slow, low wicket they made a good start with Graham Cooper, Freddie Turner and Graeme North (45) taking them to 70-1.
However, as the ball got softer Ratby’s medium pacer, Paresh (6-33), was able to strangle the life out of the Oakham batting and they subsided to 157 all out which despite the pitch was never going to be enough.
Ratby’s reply started well for Oakham with two early wickets but the arrival of Cockerill (68) and Hand (50) took the game away from Oakham who were not helped by countless near misses and some self-inflicted errors through dropped catches.
Both batsmen were dismissed late on in the innings but too late to make any difference to the result and Ratby finished on 158-5 to win by five wickets.