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George Dobell at Lord's
July 19, 2014
A member of the MCC ground staff caused a stir by dragging his right foot along the ground while sweeping the pitch
The MCC has admitted to "a genuine mistake" after a member of the Lord's ground staff was shown sliding his feet on a good length during the lunch break on the third day of the second Investec Test between England and India.
Shane Doherty, an experienced member of the MCC team who has worked on several international games over the last few years, had been asked to sweep dust off the pitch at the interval.
To do so, he should have stood to the side of the pitch and ensured he in no way interfered with the playing area. Instead he was captured by television cameras walking - you might even say dragging his foot - on a good length as he worked. Such activity could, in theory, create scuff marks on the pitch and provide extra assistance for the bowlers.
It is understood another member of the groundstaff alerted Doherty to his error.
MCC took to Twitter to issue an apology and some reassuring words. A statement read: "MCC admits a genuine, honest mistake, and there was no intent to damage the pitch."
"Maybe he has had a bit too much sun," the head groundsman, Mick Hunt, said with a rueful shake of his head.
While conspiracy theorists might suggest it was relevant that India started their second innings minutes before the lunch interval, it is important to remember that England are to bat last on the pitch.
While the heavy roller will be used before the fourth innings, any damage or wear on the pitch at this stage will only become more pronounced as the game progresses. Doherty was also wearing light shoes with little grip and without any studs or spikes.
The episode might have caused little interest in normal circumstances - there is very little chance of the pitch condition having been altered by the groundsman's shoes - but was given extra oxygen by the intervention of Kevin Pietersen who posted a brief video online.
The ostracised player, who recently represented the Rest of the World in the anniversary game to celebrate the present Lord's 200th year, wrote "UNBELIEVABLE" in capital letters on his Twitter page with seven exclamation marks just to underline his lack of belief in what he had seen.
Another tweet from Pietersen stated: "I cannot believe what I've just seen from one of the groundstaff!"
With nearly two million Twitter followers, Pietersen's interest ensured the matter received a great deal more attention.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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