Northants chief Smith condemns Old Trafford conditions

Northamptonshire chief executive David Smith has criticised the pitch used for the County Championship encounter with Lancashire at Old Trafford.
Northants' chief executive David SmithNorthants' chief executive David Smith
Northants' chief executive David Smith

Eighteen wickets fell on the first day of the contest for a paltry 183 runs and by lunchtime on the second day, a further five wickets had tumbled.

And Smith, who was in attendance for the first days’ play, was far from impressed with what he saw at a stadium that will host the third Ashes Test match at the beginning of August.

He said: “Was this a good cricket wicket? No it was not.

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“Was it a fair contest between bat and ball? My view is that it was not.

“This should have been a showcase Division Two game between two teams currently occupying the top two positions in the division. It was not allowed to be that.

“Was this the type of wicket I would have expected to have seen at a Test ground? No it was not, it was akin to an outground and a poor one at that.

“What level of preparation went into this wicket? We can only guess but it looked underprepared and the scorecard supports this view.

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“As this was scheduled to be a four-day game was this the type of wicket that is in the best interests of our game? No it was not.”

An ECB pitch inspector was in attendance for the first day and will have been required to make an assessment, as is the case if 15 or more wickets fall, and Smith admitted that the County are keenly interested in the report.

And he emphasised his view that the surface wasn’t fit for purpose.

He added: “I sat behind the bowler’s arm in the Lancashire committee room for much of yesterday’s play and while accepting that the game was played in ideal conditions for swing bowling and that it was a very good toss to win, the fact is that batting was a complete lottery with a top score of 30 from any batsman.

“That statistic, I am afraid, tells no lies.”