County news July 10, 2007

ECB promise review of New Road abandonment

Cricinfo staff

Mark Newton continues to face tough questions about the state of New Road © Getty Images
The England & Wales Cricket Board have launched an investigation into the circumstances of Worcestershire's County Championship washout against Kent at New Road. The game had to be abandoned without a ball being bowled, after the ground was flooded on June 26 when the River Severn burst its banks. Kent had asked for the game to be moved to Beckenham or elsewhere in the county, but Worcestershire declined, prompting their opponents to lodge a complaint with the ECB.

On Sunday Mark Newton, Worcestershire's chief executive, said he would stand by his decision over not relocating the match because of an important Pro40 game at the ground on Friday. From the start of the match there seemed very little chance of any play, with large areas of the ground like a mud bath.

"We are not trying to be confrontational and sympathise with Worcestershire's position," said Kent's chief executive, Paul Millman. "But we do not feel the game should go ahead under the present conditions.''

Graham Ford, Kent's director of cricket, was less than impressed by the situation: "There is sympathy for Worcestershire in the sense it has been a pretty tragic situation in terms of the flooding. But I would be being dishonest if I didn't say we feel pretty hurt and let down," he told the Press Association.

"When a decision like that is made, surely the people who made the decision were aware of what is an acceptable set of conditions for first-class cricket. That is what they needed to present us with and they must also be aware of the punishments that are in place for not presenting the right conditions and they failed pretty dismally.

"Under those circumstances, some action should be taken. Worcester have made their problems our problems."

The match was called off by the umpires Richard Kettleborough and Martin Bodenham after only an hour of the third day, with pools of water still sitting on the outfield. "We will be reviewing all the circumstances of the match and will make a decision," said the ECB chief executive David Collier. " There are quite significant implications and precedents we need to have a look through. We will be reviewing all of the facts and will make a decision in the next 48 hours."

On Monday, Robert Key, Kent's captain, said: "Both sides agree, and the umpires agree, the ground is nowhere near fit. Worcester are prepared to go out there and we are not at the minute. It is just mud. As soon as you start running around on it, it is going to go all over the place.

"I understand the decision their chief executive has made for business reasons. Unfortunately this game is suffering for it which I am sure they would agree with."

Key also said he had health concerns with the recent flood waters having contained sewage and also didn't want to risk any of his pace bowlers on poor run-ups.

Newton continued to stand firm and was confident the ECB wouldn't come down too hard on Worcestershire. "The ECB could have a word and say 'it was an ill-advised decision' but I've already admitted it could be a risk and I am going to defend my decision," he said. "But they wouldn't do anything fine-wise because we missed a day or two because of the weather."