Cricket: Piper banned for one match

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The Independent Online
The former England A wicketkeeper, Keith Piper, has failed a drugs test and been fined pounds 500 and suspended for one match by his county, Warwickshire.

Piper's employers revealed yesterday that the 27-year-old had been found to be smoking cannabis and was therefore in breach of club rules.

In an official statement, Warwickshire said: "Following consultation with the England and Wales Cricket Board, he has been suspended for one game and fined pounds 500 for misconduct and bringing the game into disrepute.

"Both the board and the club take a serious view of the offence, believing that it is essential for the clean image of the game of cricket to be protected.

"The player has agreed to give the club a signed undertaking that he will not be using the drug in future. The club has also offered to provide counselling to the player for this problem as necessary."

Piper's suspension applies to the County Championship game against Leicestershire, which is due to start at Grace Road today. Chief executive Dennis Amiss said: "Piper has gone away for a few days. We will see what frame of mind he is in when he comes back and decide whether it is right to play him in the Sunday league match."

Piper's offence was detected when all of Warwickshire's players were tested for drugs on Monday - a measure that came in the wake of lurid revelations in the press by the county's former all-rounder Paul Smith.

Owais Shah, teenage hero of Middlesex's NatWest Trophy win over Kent at Lord's on Tuesday, will make his first Championship appearance of the season against Yorkshire at Headingley today.

After completing his A levels, Middlesex will be hoping that Shah's one- day form - 65 not out against Gloucestershire in the Sunday League and a match-clinching 27 not out against Kent - will be converted to the four- day game. Phil Tufnell is added to Tuesday's line-up.

English cricket's first official attempt to stage a floodlit match may end in soggy - and costly - anti-climax. Temporary floodlights, hired for pounds 40,000, were being erected by Surrey at The Oval yesterday as rain fell steadily, and the weather forecasters were predicting more of the same today.

Surrey's Axa Life League game with Nottinghamshire, billed as the Surrey Lions versus the Notts Outlaws, is due to start at 5pm today. It has cost pounds 100,000 to put on and was expected to attract a crowd in excess of 10,000 given fair weather.

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