Cricket: County support for Nash

Friday 20 January 1995 00:02 GMT

Middlesex are expected to keep faith with their new overseas signing, Dion Nash, despite his suspension for drug use.

Nash, who is due to replace Desmond Haynes as Middlesex's foreign player this season, is one of three players suspended by New Zealand for alleged use of marijuana during their recent tour of South Africa. The trio - Nash, Stephen Fleming and Matthew Hart - are all members of the New Zealand squad to play the West Indies in the opening one-day international on Sunday, and have been suspended for all the three limited-overs matches against the tourists.

The Middlesex secretary, Joe Hardstaff, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, said: "I applaud the action they have taken, because drug-taking has no place in our game."

New Zealand cricket authorities claimed Nash deserved to be given a second chance with Middlesex, and Hardstaff admitted: "That is probably a good guess, but we will consider Dion's position when we have all the facts."

The players allegedly smoked cannabis at a team barbecue in Paarl on 22 December and the incident was brought to the attention of the team manager, Mike Sandlant, by the captain, Ken Rutherford. Fleming and Hart have admitted smoking cannabis, but Nash said he had "merely simulated its use".

All three players have been fined £100. Fleming said: "I deeply regret my involvement in the incident that has led to my suspension, and for bringing shame and embarrassment on the game of cricket in New Zealand."

The NZ cricket chairman, Peter McDermott, who said he doubted police would press criminal charges after taking legal advice, added: "I think their behaviour [the three suspended players] is endemic of a wider malaise that appears to have infected the game."

Justin Vaughan, Dipak Patel and Roydon Hayes have been named as replacements for the suspended trio in Sunday's game.

Leading article, page 17

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