Somerset finished second in last season’s County Championship © Getty
Somerset will begin next year’s County Championship campaign on minus 12 points after being penalised for a breach of the ECB’s pitch regulations relating to the final game of the Championship season against Essex in September.
The Taunton pitch was rated “poor” for the effective title decider due to “excessive unevenness of bounce” and as a result, Somerset were charged with a breach of the regulation that requires each county to prepare the best quality cricket pitch for the match it is staging.
The charge consisted of two parts. First, that the pitch was correctly rated poor, which Somerset accepted, and secondly, that the surface was not the best that the club were able to produce for the match. On this second charge, Somerset pleaded not guilty.
However, a Cricket Disciplinary Commission (CDC) hearing on Monday (November 18) at Lord’s upheld the charge and handed Somerset a 24-point deduction – with 12 of those points suspended for two years. It means the club will begin the 2020 Championship season on minus 12 points.
The full CDC judgement has yet to be published and Somerset will await that verdict before deciding whether to appeal the commission’s decision. They have 14 days to lodge such an appeal.
It is not the first time Somerset have been subjected to a CDC investigation relating to the pitches at Taunton. In 2018, the surface for a game against Lancashire which ended in two days was rated “below average” and although no action was taken that time, the CDC warned that “Somerset CCC’s pitch preparation will continue to be monitored very closely. The club should expect any proven breach of ECB’s pitch regulations in future to result in a points deduction.”
The match against Essex pitted first against second in the last game of the season but heavy rain washed out more than half the match. However, on the final day, Somerset took nine for 39 to wrap up Essex’s first innings and offer hope of an unlikely victory.
But after Somerset declared their own second innings without batting in a bid to force a result, Essex managed to hold out for the draw that saw them crowned Champions for the second time in three years.
The ECB may be thanking their lucky stars that was the case. Had Somerset won and taken the title, the ECB would have been placed in the unenviable position of having to decide on a charge which could have impacted which county ended up as Champions. That would have been most unsatisfactory.