County news July 8, 2007

Newton takes blame for New Road washout

Cricinfo staff

It isn't a huge surprise that New Road hasn't recovered from the flooding © Getty Images
Worcestershire chief executive Mark Newton has taken the blame for the opening day washout of their Championship match against Kent at New Road. Less than two weeks ago the ground was underwater, but Newton took the decision to go ahead with the match in order to guarantee Friday's lucrative, televised Pro40 game.

The other options had been to relocate the match to Kidderminster, but that would have taken too many ground staff away from New Road to make the ground playable for the one-day game against Hampshire that launches the Pro40 tournament. Newton had wanted to move the game to Canterbury, as a swap for the return fixture in August, but the Tour de France put paid to that plan.

"By not playing today, I know there will be some criticism - and I will have to accept that. I made the decision for better or worse," Newton told the Press Association. "The easy decision would have been to go to Kidderminster, forget the day-night game on Friday - and then we'd have another couple of weeks before the Lancashire Championship match to clear things up.

"But the game on Friday is hugely important to us financially. We've already lost a huge sum of money. I've taken the decision to concentrate all our resources on getting this ground ready in the space of seven or eight days. It normally takes three weeks to recover from a flood - but I had no option.

"We are first and foremost a business that happens to play cricket and we are struggling like hell to keep this business going. I can't afford to lose the Twenty20 - and the day-night game."

The club is already facing losses of £170,000 after the ground was submerged during the June storms. The dressing rooms and members areas had to be renovated and some parts of the ground are still a long way off being ready. If the TV match was cancelled it would cost the club another £100,000.

There wasn't much sympathy coming out of the Kent camp with Paul Millman, their chief executive, angry about the conditions.

"We were led to believe the ground would be fit for play - and clearly it isn't. The key is, there were alternative venues in the county - and we also offered our own facilities at Beckenham as an alternative even though we couldn't move it to Canterbury because of the Tour de France.

"We will let the ECB pitch inspector and the match umpires decide the course of the game. But I feel it only right to express our concern and disappointment that, with a ground available elsewhere in the county, our expectations for a four-day game of cricket on a decent wicket won't be fulfilled here at New Road."