Yorkshire prepare for pitch battle

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The Independent Online

Surrey 356 and 89-3Yorkshire 158

Surrey 356 and 89-3Yorkshire 158

2 September 2000

YORKSHIRE, DOCKED eight points for a poor pitch on Thursday night and given 24 hours to appeal, responded at 3.20 yesterday afternoon with moderate words masking revolutionary intent.

Their statement said: "Yorkshire CCC will not be appealing but the chairman will raise the matter of the pitch liaison officers' inconsistency throughout the season at a general committee meeting with a view to representation to the ECB at the end of the season."

There will be no appeal because Alan Fordham, the England and Wales Cricket Board's Director of Operations, had already announced that the penalty had been imposed because the pitch here offered "excessive movement off the seam and uneven bounce. There are no extenuating circumstances".

Geoff Cope, the former England off-spinner and now a member of Yorkshire's Cricket Committee, added: "Scarborough are unlucky. The public saw 300-plus runs on the first day and eight wickets fall and they classed that as entertainment. Five years ago the wickets were low and slow and the public were drifting away.

"Grass provides pace. The bounce has been consistent. The umpires for the previous match here [in July] thought it the best cricket wicket they had seen all season."

That was certainly not the view of the ECB panel who examined the pitch after the umpires reported it was unnaturally damp at the start. "The pitch meets two of the criteria for a poor pitch in that there has been undue seam movement and uneven bounce at any time in the match," their statement said.

My impression of that first day's play was that not the fall of a single wicket could have been ascribed to misbehaviour by the pitch: good bowling, good fielding and poor batting, yes. In 104 overs it is difficult to remember more than three balls bouncing untowardly.

So if Yorkshire were trying to appear cool and diplomatic on a sweltering hot day, underneath the players, members and supporters were seething. Knots of supporters could be seen on street corners with Dickie Bird, the former Test match umpire, addressing one group.

Feelings ran higher when it was discovered that heavy overnight rain had infiltrated the run-ups, delaying play on a glorious day until 3.30, after spectators had paid admission. Darren Griffiths, the groundsman, denied that the covers had been vandalised and blamed the high level of the water table for the seepage.

The teams, having lunched together for two days, ate apart, and it was soon clear that Surrey, batting again, were keen to add to their lead of 251 while Yorkshire had no wish to risk further injuries to fast bowlers. Angry words were exchanged between umpire John Harris and Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's Director of Cricket.

Adam Hollioake, pulling to deep square leg, was Surrey's only loss in the 11 overs to tea, 36 being added before the thunderstorm arrived.