Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes slammed the controversial Edgbaston pitch on which his side suffered a crushing 218-run defeat to Warwickshire, describing it as “unfit for first-class cricket”.
The pitch was deemed poor by an England and Wales Cricket Board panel who docked Warwickshire eight points on the third evening of the game. Warwickshire have lodged a formal appeal against that decision but Rhodes was scathing in his criticism of the surface produced by Edgbaston groundsman Steve Rouse.
“It was the panel’s decision that the pitch was poor. You have some experienced guys there in Tony Pigott, David Hughes and Chris Wood,” Rhodes said.
“My view would have been different. I would have voted it as unfit. If you ask the question ‘is that fit for first-class cricket’ I would say no.
“ I sympathise with Warwickshire. They will say that preparation has been tough for them because they have been swapping wickets around and you get a snowball effect.
“But I do think it is probably a little bit under-prepared and the extravagant bounce led me to believe that it wasn’t a fit wicket for first-class cricket.”
Rhodes ended up calling in his players with Worcestershire on 109 for seven after wicketkeeper Ben Scott was struck on the hand by a lifter from Boyd Rankin.
With Vikram Solanki, who was struck on the head on the third day, and Alan Richardson, suffering a leg injury, able to bat only in an emergency, it brought a swift end to the contest.
“We had two retired hurt and another absent injured,” Rhodes said.”It was a farcical end to what was a farcical game in many ways.”
Warwickshire’s director of cricket Ashley Giles did not seek to defend the quality of the pitch but it is believed that their appeal will focus on the processes followed by the pitch panel.
In the absence of an ECB pitch liaison officer on the first day it was up to umpires Ian Gould, one of the world’s leading officials, and Martin Bodenham, a former top football referee, to contact Lord’s.
The umpires did not do that but former Lancashire captain Hughes was sent to Edgbaston on the third day of the match after Alan Fordham, the ECB’s first-class cricket operations manager, took a call from a journalist asking whether a pitch officer would be sent.
“I can’t go into why we are appealing but none of us have said it’s a great wicket, and we are not denying that,” Giles said. “I think we need to look at the whole process and that is what we are appealing on.”
Warwickshire’s appeal is expected to be heard next week. Had the pitch been marked unfit they would have been deducted 24 points, but the lower penalty seemed appropriate for a surface on which most batsmen took blows to their hands or body and only Warwickshire’s former Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf played with any confidence.
“I played on a worse pitch than that in Trinidad for England A but I think I can safely say that this is the worst wicket I have seen in professional cricket in England,” said Rhodes.
England batsman Ian Bell has withdrawn from Warwickshire’s side to play Leicestershire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 match at Grace Road on May 15. Bell is suffering from a slight hip injury.