India in England 2014 July 19, 2014

Trent Bridge pitch rated 'poor' by match referee


Nottinghamshire could be facing a fine from the ICC after the Trent Bridge pitch for the first Investec Test against India was rated as "poor" by match referee David Boon.

The pitch, slow, low and offering neither batsmen or bowlers any assistance, produced a largely stultifying game of cricket and, at the end of five day, only 29 wickets had fallen. While India scored 457 and 391 for 9, England scored 496 in the drawn game.

Boon subsequently submitted his report to the ICC and it has now been forwarded to the ECB who have 14 days to respond. After the ECB has submitted its response, the ICC's general manager of cricket, Geoff Allardice, and the ICC's chief match referee, Ranjan Madugalle, will consider all the evidence, including studying video footage of the match, before reaching their decision on whether or not the pitch was poor and if so, what penalty should be imposed in accordance with the ICC's pitch monitoring process.

After the first day's play, Steve Birks, the Trent Bridge groundsman, admitted he was disappointed with the surface and said he may have "have left a bit more grass on" the pitch.

An ECB statement was at pains to suggest that improved drainage in outfields on England's Test grounds, specifically Trent Bridge in this case, did not affect the behaviour of the pitch. It has been widely speculated that better drainage has contributed to drying out squares on several grounds and changing their character.

"ECB and Nottinghamshire are already working closely to address the uncharacteristic nature of the pitch for the Test match and ECB pitch inspector Chris Wood and Nottinghamshire groundsman Steve Birks are planning the corrective action required under the Clause 4.1 of the ICC's Pitch Monitoring Process.

"It has already been established that the drainage system at Trent Bridge played no part in the unexpected issues that arose around the preparation and performance of the Test Match wicket."

Nottinghamshire's chief executive, Lisa Pursehouse, was quick to defend Birks' reputation. "We are naturally disappointed to have produced a pitch rated poor, which is at odds with our record of producing consistently good pitches for international matches at Trent Bridge," she said.

"The role of a Test Match Venue groundsman is fraught with immense pressure and variable factors and we are blessed to have one of the very best in Steve Birks. We will cooperate fully with this process and re-establish our enduring reputation for producing good cricket wickets."

According to the ICC's process, if a pitch is rated poor, the penalty on the first occasion is a warning and/or a fine of up to $15,000 along with a directive for corrective action. On second and subsequent occasions, within five years of the first report, a fine not exceeding $30,000 is handed along with a directive.

The track at Trent Bridge was in the news earlier in the English domestic season, when a Division One game between Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire ended in three days. A pitch panel convened by the ECB decided not to impose a penalty on Nottinghamshire for the state of the pitch then.

It is the first time an international pitch in the UK has been rated as "poor" since a new process for grading pitches was introduced by the ICC in 2010, though pitches in Galle and St Kitts have also been rated poor. In extreme cases, the ICC can also describe a surface as "unfit."

Any punishment in this case is likely to be little more than symbolic. A reprimand is the likely sanction, while fines for first offences are capped at a maximum of $15,000. The fact that the groundsman issued the statement at the end of day one of the match is likely to work in the club's favour. There is no chance of any future major matches being reallocated away from the ground.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Suraj on July 20, 2014, 12:23 GMT

    Cricket Fans need to understand that ICC is trying it's level best to save TEST CRICKET and for that to start off with, we not only need good infrastructure but good pitches as well. People in UK pay a lot of money and especially when the equation of POUNDS comes into consideration, it is pretty expensive and these fans don't pay so much to just come and see the batsmen thrash for 5 days! Rather they want to see equal contest between the BAT & THE BALL. The other thing is that there are loads of advertisers who come in with a reputation of a huge series between 2 GIANTS of the Cricket World and if they don't see enough Television Ratings (TVR) then they will pull off from the next match which means the loss of revenue due to lack of advertisers! So what David Boon has done is absolutely correct. It would be interesting to see on how ECB reacts to this situation.

  • Dummy on July 20, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    That pitch was way better than ,some of those mud fields where mud turns red after hour of sun baking it in test day 1 and getting a double or hunting down scores sniffing 400 in ltd faceoff . Peace

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    How does a pitch offer assistance to "neither batsmen nor bowlers"? Doesn't that imply a pitch where it is difficult to BOTH score runs and get wickets? Even if such a thing is possible, doesn't that mean the pitch offered a "balance between bat and ball"? How can such a pitch be "poor"?

  • rob on July 20, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    I have no idea what constitutes a 'poor' pitch in the official ICC guidelines but I know what I think they are. Any pitch that makes the balance between bat and ball too uneven to allow a decent contest. It can be in the bowlers favour.. We saw a match abandoned after 2 days in the West Indies about 10 years ago. The problem there was it was too lively and the fast bowlers were threatening life and limb. On the other end of that scale we have pitches that spin excessively from ball 1 (Galle?). .. Then there are pitches that favour the batsmen too much and all bowlers are taken out of the contest. Like TB. .. It's not so much that the pitch favours one team or another, it's more that it's too one sided and the game becomes a no contest.

  • Phil on July 20, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    Bravo Boony finally if we want see crowds then wickets produced need to provide a balance between bat and ball which will provide the entertainment for the fans

  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2014, 18:50 GMT

    This is a can of snakes as there are plenty of grounds around the world as poor as this was. The only difference seems to be that if at least one team scores 500+ runs in a meaningless draw, there's nothing wrong with the pitch...

  • Umar on July 19, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    I think we should go back to the days of uncovered pitches.

  • Bosh on July 19, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    Aug/Sep 2011 - SL v Aus (1st Test), Galle International Stadium, Galle, Sri Lanka -This was ridiculous all cuz it was spinning from day 1

  • Mark on July 19, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    @Vidyadhar, if you actually read the article this has nothing there to do with the ECB but an ICC matter. David Boon does not work for the ECB. Oh and if you had watched much of the last tour in 2011 the matches were played on very good batting surfaces, but with a bit more bounce and carry than this one!

  • Blessing on July 19, 2014, 14:40 GMT

    The bowling from both parties was just as poor. Steyn would have any batsman shaking in his boots even on this pitch

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