Cricket

Somerset accept 2020 points deduction over ‘poor’ pitch

Somerset have confirmed that they will not be appealing against the decision to dock them 12 points for preparing a substandard pitch for the 2019 Championship title decider against Essex.

The ECB’s Cricket Disciplinary Committee (CDC) imposed the deduction last month after rating the Taunton surface as ‘poor’, noting its “excessive unevenness of bounce”. While Somerset accepted the charge, they disputed the suggestion that the pitch was not the best they could have produced.

However, after reviewing the CDC’s full report and relevant procedures, the club has decided not to appeal because of the “heavy burden of proof” required to overturn the original verdict.

“This conclusion has been reached because it is clear that, in order to overturn the decision, the club would have to demonstrate conclusively to the Panel who originally implemented the sanctions that they had come to the wrong decision,” a Somerset statement said. “Such a heavy burden of proof is extremely difficult for any appellant to discharge.

“The club are very disappointed with the panel’s decision but has concluded that it is in the best interest of all parties to move forward.

“We can now focus on preparing the team and the venue for the demands of the season ahead, with a specific focus on performing successfully, with a highly talented and competitive group of players and a clear focus on developing broader strategies to support this objective through our teams off the field. The club notes the strong message the panel ruling sends to all first-class counties.”

Somerset finished the 2019 season second in Division One, 11 points behind Essex, after drawing a rain-affected final game – extending the club’s wait for a maiden Championship title. They will begin 2020 on minus-12 points, with a further, suspended 12-point deduction hanging over them.

Somerset’s captain, Tom Abell, denied that the club had set out to produce an up-and-down pitch, but said they would have to deal with the points penalty “as best we can”.

“It’s a big blow, nobody wants to start the season 12 points adrift, but we know what we’ve got to do,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “The particularly disappointing thing was that we accepted the charge of it being a poor pitch, however, we were also found guilty of not producing the best wicket possible. That was disappointing because we wanted a pitch to spin, we wanted to win the game, but we felt like we were playing on the best pitch available to us.

“It’s still obviously pretty raw… but the issue wasn’t the spin, apparently. The reason we got deducted points was because of the surface and the inconsistent bounce… But I can assure you there was no intent to produce a wicket that was going to go up and down. But obviously the punishment’s been handed out, and we’ve got to deal with that as best we can.”

Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1209949.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

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