The England and Wales Cricket Board has asked counties to improve the quality of pitches prepared for Friends Life t20 matches to ensure that spectators are not driven away by low scoring matches.
ECB research has established a link between low scores and low pitch marks, making Twenty20 cricket less attractive as a spectacle.
Peter Wright, the ECB cricket committee chairman, has now written to all counties asking them to try to prepare pitches that will produce high scoring matches.
“Our analysis shows that where 20 overs are available the average total score decreases as the pitch rating decreases,” Wright writes.
“There is much justifiable concern that if the number of runs reduces the spectacle becomes less and spectators will stay away. I am asking you therefore for 2012 to pay particular attention to Friends Life t20 pitches and ensure that they are prepared to the highest quality that will lead to high-scoring, exciting matches – we cannot afford to drive spectators away.”
Wright has also warned counties that the ECB pitch liaison officers will also be punishing County Championship pitches that have excessive uneven bounce during the forthcoming season.
“The Pitch Document makes it clear that excessive seam movement, turn or unevenness in bounce will result in a pitch being marked ‘poor’,” Wright writes.
“I would, however, draw your attention to the ‘Clarifications’ in the Pitch Document which have been amended to help further clarify what excessive means.
“As you know a pitch demonstrating significant lateral movement makes life difficult for batsmen and if excessive disturbs the balance between bat and ball to an unacceptable degree.
“Uneven bounce can make life not only difficult but impossible for batsmen if excessive. To that end PLOs are likely to show less tolerance to unevenness than lateral movement though this should not be taken as any indication that policy on lateral movement is being relaxed.”