‘Not cricket’: Social player faces life ban for attacking opponents

William Campbell told police he let himself, his team-mates and the wider cricketing community...
William Campbell told police he let himself, his team-mates and the wider cricketing community down. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
A man who beat up two opponents during a Dunedin social sports match has been told by a judge: "That’s not cricket".

William John Campbell (39) now waits to find out whether he will be able to play the game in the region again.

One of the men he attacked in front of the man’s young daughter during the Monday twilight cricket game said he would find it extremely concerning if a lifetime ban was not imposed.

Otago Cricket Association community cricket general manager Andrew Petrie said Campbell had been suspended from play during the police investigation and would now be required to front a judicial committee.

A result is expected within weeks.

Campbell pleaded guilty to two charges of assault in the Dunedin District Court last week, when the unusual background to the outburst was revealed.

He was wicket-keeping for his team, the "Mad Magpies", on January 25 at Bayfield Park when he disputed a decision from the umpire — a member of the batting team — to call a wide.

Campbell continued an "offensive tirade" and followed the umpire to his position at square leg at the end of the over.

When told to calm down, he confronted the 53-year-old victim and demanded they "sort the matter out, here and now".

A 58-year-old batsman stepped in and told Campbell to get on with the game. Campbell responded by shoving the victim in the lower face, giving him a swollen lip, before he turned his attention to the umpire.

Campbell punched him in the head and had to be restrained by his team-mates.

The game was abandoned.

The batsman told the Otago Daily Times he had only gone to police because his and other players’ children had witnessed the assaults.

He said he had played competitive cricket for more than 40 years and had never seen anything like it.

"I’ve played enough cricket to know where the line is drawn and this went well beyond that. You expect a bit of sledging and a bit of banter but not to that level."

The victim said his team was cruising to victory when Campbell erupted.

"It just reminded me of the bully at school," he said.

He said Otago Cricket had assured him Campbell would receive a lifetime ban and he was disappointed it had taken so long for a decision to be made.

Mad Magpies captain Arron Campbell said he did not condone how the defendant — his brother — acted but argued he deserved a second chance.

"He was fairly embarrassed about the situation," he said.

"He’d been going through a pretty bad phase in his life and he’s the first to admit he should not have been playing."

Arron Campbell called claims the Mad Magpies had a habit of intimidating other teams "a bit insulting".

"That’s people judging us because some of us have some tattoos on our arms. We play as passionately as anyone else," he said.

Judge David Robinson expressed surprise such an incident unfolded during a supposedly courteous pursuit.

"Cricket is the gentleman’s game," he said.

Blows to the head had to be taken seriously, the judge told William Campbell, because of the serious damage they could cause.

He imposed 60 hours’ community work and nine months’ supervision and urged the defendant to take advantage of any rehabilitation programmes provided.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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