Champions in 2017, after a long hiatus, they go into their final match against second-placed Somerset 12 points to the good, a decent buffer despite the match being played away in Taunton.
They need to be prepared for anything, especially on the pitch front. Somerset have never won the Championship in their 128-year history of playing in it, so will be desperate to prevail. Only then can they theoretically get enough points to overhaul Essex.
Somerset have been known to produce pitches that turn early in the game in order to suit their spin bowlers Jack Leach, Dominic Bess and Roelof van der Merwe. But you wonder if they would risk that this time? Apart from the threat of censure for a poor pitch, which could see points deducted, Essex have in off-spinner, Simon Harmer, the pre-eminent tweaker in the competition with 78 wickets.
The deduction of 25 points for a poor or sub-standard pitch cost Essex the Championship in 1989. The strip, which was at Southend-on-Sea, was judged immediately by the pitch inspector and the secretary of the then Test and County Cricket Board. The fact that Essex’s opponents, Yorkshire, had won the toss and had first use of the pitch which broke up on day two, was not taken into account.
These days, any venue that is reported by the Match Liaison Officer as presenting a below average pitch, a poor pitch or an unfit one, is investigated. In the case of a below average pitch, intent to make it seam or spin needs to be heavily suspected before it is passed to the chairman of ECB’s Disciplinary Committee for further action. Any pitch that is poor or unfit is passed straight to him whereupon the decision to deduct any points, or not, is made.
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September 22, 2019