Sport

ABL's import rule weakens league, says Canberra Cavalry catcher Jack Murphy

Canberra Cavalry catcher Jack Murphy says the Australian Baseball League's import rule weakens the standard of the league and could stop Major League teams from sending their developing talent Down Under, after the league decision to strip the Canberra Cavalry of their win over the Brisbane Bandits.

But Murphy was adamant it would not stop the Cavs from finding a way to win and making the ABL playoffs - starting with their four-game series against top-placed Adelaide Bite at Narrabundah Ballpark from Saturday.

Jack Murphy is frustrated that his Cavalry side was stripped of a win over the Brisbane Bandits.
Jack Murphy is frustrated that his Cavalry side was stripped of a win over the Brisbane Bandits. Photo: Jay Cronan

The Cavalry beat Brisbane 11-4 in a 13-inning epic encounter last weekend, only for the ABL to award them a forfeit for breaching the import rule, which states they must have at least five Australians in the 10-man line-up, when outfielder Adam Silva was hit by a pitch and replaced by US import Alex Hudak.

Canberra's only Aussie option on their roster was to play pitcher Wayne Ough as an outfielder, but instead they opted to field four Australians. 

The Bite broke the import rule last season, against the Cavs at Narrabundah, but only received a fine.

Murphy said the decision to void their win was unfair due to Canberra's small population and they had not broken the rule to gain an advantage.

He said no one wanted to see players playing out of position as it weakened the competition.

"[The ABL] should be more focused on putting the best possible product on the field from a baseball standpoint than anything else," he said.

"Isn't that what people come to see? They pay to watch these games because they feel they're watching the best possible baseball they can watch in Australia.

"Right now the league's not putting the best product on the field."

The Cavalry cult hero said the only reason USA imports had become an issue was because the Cavalry won the Claxton Shield in 2013 and then the other clubs started complaining.

Since then the number of Aussies the Cavs had to field had steadily climbed from two two years ago to this year's five.

He said it could stop MLB clubs  from sending their young talent to Australia.

"Once those [MLB] teams start to realise that it's no longer a competitive environment then they're going to pull their talent from the league and then what's going to be left?" Murphy said.

"Then you're going to be left with what you had before the ABL started."

There's only one MLB-affiliated Canberran on the Cavalry's list, Robbie Perkins, with most of their affiliated talent players the other states didn't want.

Perkins will go into the Bite series full of confidence after he was awarded the ABL offensive player of the week for his efforts against Brisbane.

He hit .429 for the series. including three home runs and six runs batted in.

Silva has been allowed to play against the Bite, despite being put on the disabled list last weekend, but the Cavs' Aussie stocks have taken a hit with starting pitcher Aaron Thompson unavailable.

He will be replaced by a fit Sean Toler (concussion), with Gaby Hernandez rejoining the starting rotation.

Cavalry pitcher Steven Kent (elbow) has started pitching at club level and could be considered for next week's trip to play the Melbourne Aces.

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE

Canberra Cavalry v Adelaide Bite at Narrabundah Ballpark, Saturday 4pm, 7pm, Sunday 6pm, Monday 12pm.