The shape of things to come?

Yesterday afternoon, at around 4pm, we all learnt that Warwickshire’s appeal against the points deduction imposed because of the state of the pitch during the recent game against Worcestershire had been unsuccessful. This perhaps came as little surprise although was still very disappointing. The Bears must also pay £3,000 towards the costs of the appeal. Once again disapointing but par for the course in such cases. Never mind, we tried our best to tell ourselves, tomorrow is another day, and we have a promising LVCC match to look forward to between ourselves and close rivals Durham. They won the Championship match at their gaff and we had just won the CB40 game at ours. Honours even – and so were the points in the LVCC Div 1 table.

Will Edgbaston give Taunton a run for its money?


And so today began full of hope and expectation. But there was always a niggling worry in the back of my mind. What would the pitch be like? Would it be another lively pitch? Or would the club take the cautious root of producing a feather-bed? Or a happy medium between the two?

Sadly, there was no happy mediun, and after winning the toss and electing to bat Durham finished on 348/3 on a pitch described by BBC local radio as slow and easy. Feather-bed it was to be then. Now I am the first to say that you should wait to see both sides bat / bowl on a pitch before drawing too many conclusions about it (ECB take note), but it looks pretty likely that this fixture is going to end in a bore draw.

This is not what players, fans, clubs or indeed the ECB really want. But it is what they will get from clubs once they have been penalised for producing lively pitches.

These sorts of pitches can produce great limited overs games but are death to the first class game!

It has been one of the high points of the season so far that the fine weather has allowed enough play in most matches to lead to a positive result one way or the other.

If this pitch is the shape of things to come for the rest of the season at Edgbaston it could be draws all round from here on in. No doubt the records will be tumbling and totals soaring in the 40 and 20 over games. But there will be less and less interest in the Championship games.

I hope we get this pitch situation sorted – we don’t want Edgbaston to be the new Sabina Park, but we don’t want it to be the new Taunton either! After all, there must be reasons why Somerset have never won the County Championship, and one of these is too many draws!!!

C’mon you Bears!

Mark

Judgement Day at Lord’s

Later on today (I am writing this at 3:50 AM dont ask!) the Bears will have their appeal against the 8 point penalty for the ‘poor’ pitch against Worcestershire heard by the powers that be at Lord’s.

A lot of supporters clearly feel our appeal is doomed to failure but I am not so sure. The appeal will clearly be based not on the state of the pitch but on the way in which the pitch came to be reported to the inspectors.

Justice for Giles !!!

The guidelines state that umpires can report a pitch that they deem to be below par or, if one of the pitch inspectors is attending a match, they can investigate on their own initiative. Neither of these things happened during our game against Worcestershire – the pitch inspectors felt it neccessary to visit because of a complaint made by a journalist!

I don’t know if the appeal is presented in writing or face to face – probably a bit of both – but if I was heading the WCCC delagation I would imagine the conversation would go something like this:

Me: Can we have our 8 points back please?

ECB: No. Sorry.

Me: Listen, we know the pitch has its problems but it is widely acknowledged that correct procedure wasn’t followed. So, points please!!

ECB: Even if procedures were not followed to the letter we cannot ignore the state of the pitch after it is brought to our attention.

Me: But the pitch against Lancs was worse!

ECB: And?

Me: No one came to inspect that one!

ECB: The umpires never reported it!

Me: The umpires never reported the pitch against Worcestershire!

ECB: Yes but a reporter did so we could not ignore it! Letter of the law ? Perhaps not! But spirit of the law? Yes!

Me: So what you are saying is that it doesn’t matter how a poor pitch comes to your attention. Once you are aware of it – then it needs to be inspected?

ECB: Yes

Me: So had somebody applied for a super-injunction covering press reporting of our game against Lancs?

ECB: Sorry you’ve lost me.

Me: I mean was there not the normal level of press coverage during our game against Lancs as there is for every other game?

ECB: Errrr . . . I would imagine there was.

Me: So every Warks and Lancs fan reading about the game knew the pitch was a bit iffy.  As did all the reporters covering the game. As did any neutral cricket followers who glanced over the scorecard!

ECB: Errr . . . Ummm . . . Probably.

Me: Were the pitch inspectors on holiday that week?

ECB: Come one Mark please get to the point its 4:33 now and Jr has gone back to sleep so go back to bed!

Me: What I mean is the ECB and the pitch inspectors must have known there was a problem with the pitch for the Lancs game but because the umpires never reported it they did nowt! But because a Pears friendly journo complained in the Worcs game the inspectors came down!

ECB: And your point is?

Me: Its completely inconsistent! If the journalist that made the call happened to be ill or on holiday or otherwise engaged that week we would not have been deducted points – but the pitch and the result would still have been the same!

ECB:  Hmmm . . . Interesting point.

Me:  Yes.  So our points are?

ECB: Being added back to you total as we speak!

Jr: zzzzzz

Me: Oo ar top of the league . . .Say oo ar top of the league!

ECB: Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!

Me: Goodnight! If they baby wakes up again its your turn next!

ECB: :-[

Mark

Apologies for any typos as this was produced on my Samsung Galaxy S. Touch screen very tricky at this time of the morn! 4:47 now  – nite!

Perfect Symmetry

Symmetry has been marvelled at down the ages!

In nature and in art symmetry can often be a beautiful thing – the wings of a butterfly for instance.

And this morning we see a very beautiful piece of symmetry in the LV County Championship Division 1 table. 

After Warwickshire’s magnificent win against champions Nottinghamshire yesterday the Bears are top of the table!  If you look at the bottom of the table you wil,l of course, see Worcestershire.  So we have WCCC at the top and WCCC at the bottom – a very perfect piece of symmetry indeed!

And long may it continue.

C’mon You Bears!

Mark

Steve Rhodes: Motivational Coach

It was with some glee, but frankly little surprise, that I read the scorecard of the LVCC game between Durham and Worcestershire at New Road yesterday.

Durham batted first and scored a massive 587/7 declared against the Pears!

The reasons I felt glee are obvious – local rival, moaning point stealers, etc - I could go on for some time.

However, the reason I felt little surprise about

Mr Motivator your job is safe!

this is because Worcestershire’s own ‘wicket-keeping hero’ ‘county legend’ and now ‘director of cricket’ spent the best part of last week telling anyone who would listen how bad his bowlers are!

“What?” I hear you cry “Surely not!”

Well, he didn’t put it quite like that, but that is, in effect, what he has been saying.

All the time that he has been complaining about the inadequacies of the Edgbaston pitch has he forgotten that his own bowlers conceded nearly 400 runs on what should have – according to him – been a bowlers paradise!

It is like telling a striker that he couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net if his granny was in goal!

I expect to see a lot of county records fall when sides bat against Worecestershire CCC this year.  So well done Mr Rhodes!  Hope you have fun winning division 2 next year!

Mark

The Edgbaston pitch controversy: A fan’s perspective

Now that I have had a few days to reflect on Warwickshire’s 8 point penalty for producing a ‘poor’ pitch for the County Championship match against Worcestershire I am ready to share my thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, the quality of the pitch. Clearly it was a bowlers wicket from day one with uneven bounce clearly evident. However to describe it, as one cricinfo journalist did, as ‘the worst professional wicket he has ever seen in England’ sounds a tad extreme!

The batsmen did take a few blows but the ordeal must have been nothing compared to that meated out to every touring test team in the Carribean throughout the 70′s and 80′s!

Those with a passion for cricketing history must also be shaking their heads about the fuss created by this pitch when players of yesteryear played on uncovered pitches and with no helmets!

If the Bears still had Allan Donald in their ranks the fuss might be understanderble – but sadly we do not!

I suppose the ECB are rightly annoyed that Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott have been put at risk of injury in this manner. Also, they have been deprived of good match practice!

The thing that irks the many fans the most is that a casual glance at the scorecard does not indicate that the pitch was a minefield from day one. Warks scored 382 batting first and innings totals declined from there – which is a fairly normal pattern of events. Little time was lost to rain and the game made it to the final day.

So it does not seem fit to call the game a farce as some have. The only farcial part of the game came at the end when Worcestershire decided not to let Solanki and Richardson come out to bat at all. Were they that badly hurt? Im sure they would have come out to bat if the result was not already a foregone conclusion. Pathetic!

Now the second thing to be dealt with is how the pitch came to be inspected at all.

The norm is for the pitch to be reported by the umpires. One of the umpires for the match was test umpire Alan Gould so if he saw no reason to complain than that should have been the end of the matter surely!
To be reported by a journalist just annoys us fans even more and leads to suspiscion that it was a Pears friendly journalist doing the deed!

It is this lack of normal procedure that will surely offer the Bears their best hope of a successful appeal.

Another ssue that needs to be dealt with is how Warwickshire have dealt with the pitch issues evident since the match against Lancashire.

Iffy pitches take time to sort out. You are dealing with nature after all – not fixing a machine! There are lots of reasons why we are having these problems with the pitch. Harsh winter, dry spring, a new drainage system and a new stand being built.

I would have thought that if WCCC had worries about the state of the pitch due to the work that had taken place over the winter that they would have had a quiet word with the powers that be at the ECB to try to pre-empt any criticism of the pitch! After all a new drainage system was installed at the insistance of the ECB. And it is this drainage system that is largely being blamed for drying out the square.

Now for all I know this may well have all been done by the club before the Worcestershire match. Sadly if it was it was to no avail!

My final thought on this pitch controversary concerns the nature of the punishment.

The failure to produce a decent pitch, whatever the mitigating circumstsnces might be, is the fault of the groundsman Steve Rouse and the hierarchy of the club. A points deduction penalty mainly punishes the players and supporters.

Most of the people who run the ground on a day to day basis probably spend a large part of their time worrying about the financial side of things. So if the ECB want a club to get their act together regarding the pitch then they should fine the club not deduct points!

No one, not even the Pears, has suggested that the pitch had been prepared by Warwickshire to gain a sporting advantage. So therefore a sporting penalty is not really appropiate. It labels the club as cheats, when in fact they are only guilty of slight incompetence on this occaision. The Bears are not cheats and we are just as annoyed about the pitch as our opponents and the ECB are.

Therefore a financial penalty would be much more appropiate than a sporting one!

At least the best team still won!

Oh well thats off my chest now and I feel alot better.  Comments are very welcome as always.

Good Luck with the appeal Bears!

Mark

All Photos by Peter Lowe – Many Thanks!