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Cricket umpire brutally assaulted in ‘darkest hour’

NEW Zealand cricket has been rocked by allegations an umpire was assaulted after being knocked to the ground during a grade cricket brawl over the weekend.

New Zealand Police have announced they are continuing to investigate the brawl, despite reports that no charges have been laid.

Stuff.co.nz reports the fates of five players, including the player-umpire allegedly assaulted, will be decided on Monday by a Horowhenua-Kapiti Cricket Association hearing to be chaired by an independent commissioner.

A match between Paraparaumu and Weraroa at Kena Kena Park, near Wellington, reportedly sparked farcical scenes on Sunday after one player allegedly repeatedly kicked an opposition player-umpire in the head as he lay prone on the ground.

A witness told Fairfax Media the attack was "absolute thuggery" and had stemmed from a decision made by the  Paraparaumu player-umpire, and escalated to the point that police were called.

"If that happened on the street it would be GBH (grievous bodily harm), so how come if it happens on the field it's fine?" the unnamed witness said.

"He had a third kick at him before his team pulled him off.

"I know exactly who did the kicking, everyone saw who it was.

"I believe his nose is broken, then another three or four Levin players joined in and proceeded to kick and punch him".

Horowhenua-Kapiti Cricket Association chief executive David O'Brien said the organisation had been made aware of the incident on Tuesday and immediately launched an investigation into the matter.

"We are extremely disappointed to hear of allegations of violence on our cricket grounds and simply don't condone any form of abuse," O'Brien said.

The organisation have received a New Zealand Code of Conduct report from the official umpire, and those identified in the report will go through the formal process outlined by New Zealand Cricket, The New Zealand Herald reports.

The Horowhenua Chronicle reported on Tuesday that the scandal had become the association's "darkest hour".

Two players from the Paraparaumu club and three players from Weraroa have been stood down until the hearing is held next week.

The police investigation into the assault of a cricket umpire remains open.
The police investigation into the assault of a cricket umpire remains open.

Weraroa club captain Brett Cole told the Chronicle he strongly disputed the reported versions of events.

"A lot has been said so far, but it is only a smidgen of the story," he said.

"We have to be very clean and very clear about what we say, but it will all come out in the wash ... you might find some of the action was retaliatory.

"Our club has a code of conduct that we follow very closely. This is a family club and in my 30 years of involvement we have never had an incident like this.

"We do not feel it appropriate to outline our full statement of facts while the disciplinary process is being followed.

"However, we consider it necessary to state that the account of events in media contains a number of blatant untruths from our club's point of view and portrays Weraroa Cricket Club players as being primarily to blame.

"We deeply regret what took place on the cricket field on Sunday and do not condone violence."

A police spokesperson confirmed officers from the Kapiti station attended the incident on Sunday at 3.45pm after receiving several phone calls.

No arrests were made nor charges laid.

A person claiming to be an eye witness told Stuff.co.nz  it was "stretching a long bow" for Weraroa officials to be claiming that a Paraparaumu player instigated the confrontation.

"Yes the PCC player shoved the Weraroa player, but only after being verbally abused and threatened in his role as a player-umpire,' the witness reportedly said.

The same witness said the Weraroa player "was still calling for a one-on-one fight with the PCC player" when the match was abandoned and players were leaving the ground.