Cricket: Plans to keep county surfaces firm and fair

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The Independent Online
SPOT-CHECKS are set to be introduced next season to stop counties preparing unfit and unfair surfaces for first-class championship matches.

That measure, and a more stringent system of points penalties for those thought guilty of producing unsatisfactory surfaces, will be proposed to the First Class Forum meeting at Lord's today by the England and Wales Cricket Board advisory committee.

It is hoped that unannounced visits at games by pitch liaison officers would be more effective than the current system which involves inspectors being summoned by umpires, or if 15 wickets fall in one day. An ECB spokesman, Mark Hodgson, said: "We hope that it will be a good initiative for next season."

A sliding scale of deductions to replace the current mandatory 25-point penalty for poor pitches will also be suggested. Eight points would be deducted the first time a pitch is declared "poor" and 12 for each time thereafter. An "unfit" pitch would be penalised 20 points.