SOMERSET will begin next season's County Championship on -12 points after being punished for a 'poor' pitch in the final match of the 2019 campaign against Essex in Taunton.

The club have been docked 24 points in all, 12 of which have been suspended for two years, for a pitch a Lord's hearing today judged to have "excessive unevenness of bounce".

The match in question, a Championship decider which was drawn having been dominated by rain, saw 17 of the 21 wickets fall to spin.

A club statement said: "Representatives from Somerset County Cricket Club attended a Cricket Discipline Commission meeting at Lord’s this afternoon to answer the following charges:

  • The pitch prepared for the Specsavers County Championship match vs Essex on 23-26 September was substandard and rated poor.
  • The pitch prepared for Specsavers County Championship match vs Essex on 23-26 September was not the best quality cricket pitch that Somerset County Cricket Club was able to prepare for the match.

Somerset accepted the 'poor' pitch verdict but pleaded not guilty to the second part of the charge relating to pitch preparation.

Somerset have 14 days to appeal and say they will "await the full report from the cricket discipline commission before considering our next course of action."

The decision comes more than eight weeks after the conclusion of the season and begs the question as to what may have happened had Somerset won the match and consequently the Championship.

Somerset have previously been warned over a "below average" pitch against Middlesex in 2017 and a surface which "demonstrated excessive turn" against Lancashire the following summer.

Following the latter, the CDC warned "the club should expect any proven breach of ECB's pitch regulations in future to result in a points deduction".

There has been frustration from Somerset players and supporters in the past at a sense that turning pitches are judged more harshly than seaming surfaces.

In Jack Leach and Dom Bess, the county have produced two England Test match spinners in recent years and Leach has previously stated his belief that turning pitches are useful in preparing English players for subcontinent wickets.