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County Championship 2021

County pitches slammed by Vaughan, Warne and Gough after triple-figure wicket day in the Championship

county pitches
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Michael Vaughan, Darren Gough and Shane Warne voiced their frustration at the state of county pitches after a day where wickets tumbled across the land in the County Championship.

Over 100 wickets fell across the eight games that started today. Discounting the Leicestershire-Derbyshire game that saw Leicestershire pile on 282-3 on the opening day, 99 wickets fell across the other seven fixtures – a rate of more than 14 per match. There were six cases of sides being bowled out for under 150, with 20 wickets falling in the Hampshire-Warwickshire game alone.

Responding to the flurry of wickets around the country, former England captain Michael Vaughan took to Twitter to make clear his concern over what the scores said about the state of county pitches, and how harmful that can be for player development.

His point was echoed by his former Yorkshire and England teammate Darren Gough, who argued that the pitches are prepared to guarantee results.

The wicket-filled day in the County Championship was in stark contrast to the cricket on show in the England-India Test at The Oval, where 10 wickets have fallen across the past two days, with a draw the favourite heading into the final day, despite no time being lost to the weather so far. Rob Key, writing in his column in the Evening Standard, recently argued that county cricket does not adequately replicate the challenges players are likely to face in Test cricket.

“It is time the ECB listened to players such as Root and Alastair Cook — the last two world-class batters we have produced — who say that county pitches are not good enough,” he wrote.

“For too long, Championship cricket has rewarded the trundler, and the wrong type of cricket. The players who thrive are seamers whose age (forties) and bowling speed (sixties) are far too close together. It does not resemble Test cricket in the slightest.”

Shane Warne also voiced his frustration at what seamer-friendly conditions does for the development of spin bowlers. Matt Parkinson, one of the players of the English summer and a possible England Ashes tourist, was left out of the Lancashire XI for their game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, with a noticeably green pitch likely to be the reason behind his absence.

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