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Somerset accept 2020 points deduction over ‘poor’ pitch

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Somerset have confirmed that they will not be appealing against the decision to dock them 12 points for preparing a substandard pitch for the 2019 Championship title decider against Essex.

The ECB’s Cricket Disciplinary Committee (CDC) imposed the deduction last month after rating the Taunton surface as ‘poor’, noting its “excessive unevenness of bounce”. While Somerset accepted the charge, they disputed the suggestion that the pitch was not the best they could have produced.

However, after reviewing the CDC’s full report and relevant procedures, the club has decided not to appeal because of the “heavy burden of proof” required to overturn the original verdict.

“This conclusion has been reached because it is clear that, in order to overturn the decision, the club would have to demonstrate conclusively to the Panel who originally implemented the sanctions that they had come to the wrong decision,” a Somerset statement said. “Such a heavy burden of proof is extremely difficult for any appellant to discharge.

“The club are very disappointed with the panel’s decision but has concluded that it is in the best interest of all parties to move forward.

“We can now focus on preparing the team and the venue for the demands of the season ahead, with a specific focus on performing successfully, with a highly talented and competitive group of players and a clear focus on developing broader strategies to support this objective through our teams off the field. The club notes the strong message the panel ruling sends to all first-class counties.”

Somerset finished the 2019 season second in Division One, 11 points behind Essex, after drawing a rain-affected final game – extending the club’s wait for a maiden Championship title. They will begin 2020 on minus-12 points, with a further, suspended 12-point deduction hanging over them.

Somerset’s captain, Tom Abell, denied that the club had set out to produce an up-and-down pitch, but said they would have to deal with the points penalty “as best we can”.

“It’s a big blow, nobody wants to start the season 12 points adrift, but we know what we’ve got to do,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “The particularly disappointing thing was that we accepted the charge of it being a poor pitch, however, we were also found guilty of not producing the best wicket possible. That was disappointing because we wanted a pitch to spin, we wanted to win the game, but we felt like we were playing on the best pitch available to us.

“It’s still obviously pretty raw… but the issue wasn’t the spin, apparently. The reason we got deducted points was because of the surface and the inconsistent bounce… But I can assure you there was no intent to produce a wicket that was going to go up and down. But obviously the punishment’s been handed out, and we’ve got to deal with that as best we can.”



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Matt Henry set for Kent return for first seven County Championship games

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Matt Henry, the New Zealand seamer, will return to Kent for the first seven matches of this season’s County Championship.

Henry, who impressed during last year’s World Cup with 14 wickets as New Zealand reached the final, took 75 wickets at 15.48 in the 2018 Championship, helping Kent to promotion.

He took five five-wicket hauls that season, including 7 for 45 against Durham and 7 for 42 against Northamptonshire, and struck a first-class best 81 from 75 balls from No. 9 against Derbyshire.

“I’m thrilled to be able to come back to Kent after having such an enjoyable time here in 2018,” Henry said. “It was great to see the club perform so well back in Division One last summer.

“There’s a great group of guys here and I’m looking forward to playing in a Kent jersey again in the club’s 150th year.”

Kent’s director of cricket, Paul Downton, said: “Matt is a hugely popular figure in the dressing room and also with our members and supporters.

“We are absolutely delighted that he will be joining us for the first half of the season as we look to compete and win matches in Division One.

“Matt’s ability to lead the attack, and his proven ability to take wickets in English conditions, make him a really exciting addition to our squad. We can’t wait to welcome him back to Kent this season.”



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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Bangladesh 3rd T20I 2020

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Match abandoned: Pakistan v Bangladesh

Persistent rain forced the third T20I between Pakistan and Bangladesh to be called off at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday. The prospect of such an end to the series had begun to increase substantially over the past couple of days, with rain forecast for today, but the intensity and longevity of the downpour meant there was little choice but to call it off 40 minutes before the official cut-off time.

The series never really took off, with Pakistan wrapping up two straightforward wins in the first two T20Is. That means they wrap up the series – their first T20I series win after four losses on the spin – and retain the world number one ranking in the format, which they would have lost with one defeat this series. Bangladesh will return home tonight, and return next week for the first of two Test matches at Pindi Cricket Stadium, which begins on February 7.



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Recent Match Report – Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test 2020

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Zimbabwe chose to bat v Sri Lanka

Zimbabwe captain Sean Williams won the toss and elected to bat in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

On a dry Harare surface that is expected to get lower and slower as the game wears on, Williams was keen to take the first lease when the batting conditions are expected to be optimal.

Both sides made changes to their XIs from the last Test. For the hosts, one change was enforced as Kyle Jarvis sustained a lower back injury. Fellow seamer Carl Mumba replaced Jarvis, while 29-year-old legspinning allrounder Tinotenda Mutombodzi was handed a Test debut, coming in for left-arm spinner Ainsley Ndlovu.

For Sri Lanka, there was just one change with left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando replacing Kasun Rajitha, a move that captain Dimuth Karunaratne hoped would add some variation to the bowling attack.

Sri Lanka lead the two-match Test series 1-0.

Zimbabwe: Prince Masvaure, Kevin Kasuza, Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams (capt), Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva (wk), Donald Tiripano, Carl Mumba, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Victor Nyauchi

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Embuldeniya, Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Kumara



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