The UK Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) has docked Hampshire three points for preparing a “below average” pitch for their County Championship match against Essex.
The match took place in July.
The CDC Panel cited a comment by Simon Lee, the chief groundsman, that suggested he had been asked to prepare a pitch offering “seam movement.” Furthermore, he claimed that the Arctic Monkeys concert at the Ageas Bowl the previous month had a “considerable impact on the grass on the square.”
The CDC’s report described Lee as “a highly competent groundsman of considerable integrity” but concluded: “The club has not demonstrated that it is more likely than not that, acting reasonably, it sought to prepare the best quality cricket pitch for the match.”
Match referee, Wayne Moon, marked the pitch as ‘below average,’ which is considered a breach of pitch regulations. However, Hampshire stated that they “actively sought to prepare the best quality cricket pitch that they could for the match.”
They have also been fined GBP 5000 and a 20-point penalty for the 2024 Championship season, which will only become active if they commit a further breach of the pitch regulations in the Championship before the end of next season.
Hampshire has been given 14 days to file a report in response, which they are expected to do soon.
Essex’s coach, Anthony McGrath said immediately after the game: “The pitch wasn’t ideal. I don’t think there was any intent there, but it hasn’t made it a fair battle between bat and ball. I don’t want to criticise it strongly, but anyone who was here knows it wasn’t ideal for first-class cricket.”
James Vince, Hampshire’s captain, said: “The pitch didn’t play quite how we wanted it to or expected it to but it was the same for both teams. You needed a bit of luck on a pitch that was seaming around a bit, but in the end, they coped with conditions better than we did.”