Warwickshire’s attempt to claw back the eight points they were deducted for preparing a poor pitch for the County Championship match against Worcestershire at Edgbaston two weeks ago has failed.
The county’s appeal against the decision of an England and Wales Cricket Board pitch panel to penalise them for the poor quality of the strip prepared for the local derby was predictably thrown out by an ECB appeal panel at Lord’s today.
The eight-point penalty, which would have taken Warwickshire to the top of the Championship had they been reinstated, stands and Warwickshire have been ordered to pay £3,000 costs.
The basis for Warwickshire’s appeal always looked flimsy. They argued that there were extentuating circumstances and that the ECB failed to follow proper procedure in convening the pitch panel late on the second day of the Worcestershire match.
The extenuating circumstances were simply that Warwickshire had done everything in their power to prepare a good pitch for the match.
The fact that no one seems to be able to offer a satisfactory explanation how they produced a pitch that Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes described as “unfit for first-class cricket” must be a concern.
Warwickshire chief executive Colin Povey has denied that the new sand-based outfield at Edgbaston is responsible for reduced water retention in the square though that would seem to be the obvious explanation.
Warwickshire’s contention that the ECB did not adhere to their own guidelines in convening the pitch panel was based on the fact that the tip off about the quality of the pitch came from a member of the media rather than umpires Ian Gould and Martin Bodenham.
While their argument may have had some basis in a strictly-interpreted legel basis, it does not alter the fact that the pitch was sub-standard and might easily have been rated unfit which would have attracted a 24-point penalty.
The ECB appeal panel, chaired by Ricky Needham and comprising Cliff Pocock and David Acfield, has reached a common-sense decision. Warwickshire should have used more common sense and decided to accept their punishment in the first place.
The pitches at Edgbaston will be under close scrutiny for the rest of the season, particularly the one for the England v India Test in August. Test Match counties are in the process of submitting their bids to host international cricket from 2013 to 2016, a period that includes two Ashes series.
Warwickshire need to host Ashes Tests at Edgbaston in 2013 and 2015 if they are to service the huge debt they have taken on to pay for a new £32million pavilion. They could not have chosen a worse time to develop unexplained problems with their square.
“We are disappointed with the decision but we move on,” said Warwickshire chairman Norman Gascoigne.
“We argued that the process as laid down in the ECB guidelines had not been followed in forming the pitch panel. We also argued that we did everything we could to get out a good pitch. The panel came down on the other side.”