PAUL NIXON

Som­er­setin the clear with‘ made to or­der’ pitch!

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL NIXON

AS the County Cham­pi­onship sea­son came to an end this week, there were still a num­ber of is­sues to re­solve. Som­er­set and Middlesex faced each other at Taun­ton, with both counties need­ing points to sur­vive – and I can’t see any­thing wrong with Som­er­set pro­duc­ing a turn­ing pitch.

We all want to see re­sults, and as long as it stays a fair bat­tle, then there’s noth­ing wrong. Som­er­set had the home ad­van­tage and pro­duced a pitch that gave them the best op­por­tu­nity to win the game and re­main in Di­vi­sion One.

If there’s noth­ing wrong with a green seamer do­ing all sorts on day one, then there’s noth­ing wrong with the ball turn­ing on the first day ei­ther. Go­ing back a few years and Northants did it quite of­ten, Es­sex have done it in the past too.

If you’ve got top-qual­ity spin­ners, then that’s the way you play. Eng­land will go Down Un­der this win­ter, know­ing Aus­tralia have bouncy pitches, and they know they’re go­ing to be fac­ing tall, fast bowlers. Just like counties know that if you’re go­ing to Taun­ton for a four-day game, then the ball will spin.

We al­ways talk about want­ing Eng­land to be able to play spin bet­ter for when we go to the sub-con­ti­nent, and Taun­ton is of­fer­ing that help. Let’s not all jump at them – it’s very ex­cit­ing to watch.

We had green pitches in Le­ices­ter­shire in the nineties be­cause our squad of David Millns, Alan Mul­lally, Phil Sim­mons, Vince Wells, Gor­don Par­sons.

Green pitches suited us, and you use your home con­di­tions. Sur­rey this sea­son have had a strong bat­ting line-up so have pro­duced good bat­ting pitches for the likes of San­gakkara and co to dom­i­nate.

I’m happy for teams to use their home ad­van­tage, so good on Som­er­set Di­rec­tor of Cricket Matt May­nard for back­ing their strength.

And it’s slight karma for Middlesex af­ter their dec­la­ra­tion this time last year ruled Som­er­set out of the ti­tle run­ning, while they went on to be­come cham­pi­ons. You do what you need to do

Som­er­set had home ad­van­tage and pro­duced a pitch that gave them the best op­por­tu­nity to stay in di­vi­sion one

to win. As long as you’re still play­ing in the spirit of the game, then I’m all for it. You can’t be silly and de­clare two down to deny the op­po­si­tion get­ting bonus points, be­cause that’s not in the spirit of the game. You still need to play the right way to win.

The way the fix­tures have fallen made this week very in­ter­est­ing. It’s why two di­vi­sions were brought in – oth­er­wise you would have had a num­ber of teams not fighting for any­thing col­lec­tively. As it is, there was still lots to play for in both di­vi­sions.

We all thought Notts had it tied up a few weeks back, but it doesn’t take much to mix it back up. That the sea­son was go­ing down to the last few overs bowled is bril­liant and keeps ev­ery­one go­ing.

Of course, you’ve al­ways got per­sonal pride to play for. You’ve still got con­tracts to earn, and there are in­ter­na­tional tours this win­ter to try and get a place on.

You still need your tar­gets and goals to reach, so there should be no such thing as a non-com­pet­i­tive match, what­ever the time of sea­son.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Spin it to win it! But did Som­er­set bend the Laws too much by set­ting up a turn­ing deck at Taun­ton for their Cham­pi­onship match with Middlesex this week?

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