ECB set date for Warwickshire pitch penalty appeal

Warwickshire’s appeal against an eight-point penalty imposed by an England and Wales Cricket Board pitch panel for producing a poor surface for last week’s County Championship match against Worcestershire at Edgbaston will be heard at Lord’s on May 23.

Warwickshire lodged the appeal last Saturday after the panel, comprising Tony Pigott, David Hughes and Chris Wood, decided that the pitch prepared for the match showed excessive uneven bounce.

Warwickshire accepted that the pitch was not up to standard and their appeal is expected to focus on the procedure followed by the ECB in convening the pitch panel.

ECB regulations state that, if a pitch liaison officer is not present at a ground, umpires should report any concerns that they have about a pitch to Lord’s. The home authority should then be informed that a PLO has been summoned.

It is understood that umpires Ian Gould and Martin Bodenham did not make a formal complaint about last week’s pitch at the end of the first day. Hughes attended as a PLO at the start of the second day having been sent by the ECB in response to a telephone call from a journalist who wanted to know whether a PLO was in attendance.

Warwickshire may well win their appeal on a procedural technicality but it does not alter the fact that the pitch was sub-standard. According to Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes it should have been marked “unfit for first-class cricket”.

Even Warwickshire’s director of cricket Ashley Giles admitted at the end of the first day that it was “not a great day one pitch”.

Warwickshire will play next week’s County Championship match against Durham on a different part of the Edgbaston square. But any variable bounce is likely to be exposed by the pace of Durham pair Steve Harmison and Graham Onions and a PLO is likely to be hovering.

Warwickshire insist that everything will be fine with their pitches by the time they stage a Test match in August but, unless they can be certain that the new sand-based outfield is not a major contributory factor in the rapid drying out of the Edgbaston square, they would be foolish to make such confident predictions.

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