Essex coach Paul Grayson is leading calls for the wicket at Chelmsford to be dug up.
The county’s Royal London One-Day Cup defeat to Leicestershire has incurred the wrath of club members, not least because the wicket only allowed for a low-scoring game; Leicestershire won with just 142, while the hosts managed just 108 in reply.
Graeme Napier took figures of 5-43, but with the initial signs indicating that Leicestershire were struggling, the true nature of the beast was revealed once Essex came to the crease.
Eagles crash out
Despite using another wicket, the Eagles also lost out to Warwickshire in the quarter finals of the Natwest T20 Blast. The Bears grabbed a spot at Finals Day later this month as they triumphed by 19 runs, with Essex’s batsmen – barring Ryan ten Doeschate, who scored 61 not out off 27 balls – struggling to keep up the chase.
However, Grayson refused to lay the blame on groundsman Stuart Kerrison, who he described as “an outstanding groundsman”.
“It’s not a great surface”, he told BBC Sport. “We don’t want to play on that thing again.”
Essex’s complaints with the wicket date back to last year, when they were all out against Lancashire for just 20 – their lowest first-class total.
They face Lancashire again for a One-Day, but will no doubt use a different wicket again.
Trent Bridge attacked
Chelmsford is not the only pitch under the spotlight at present, with the ICC warning Trent Bridge’s ground staff over the wicket they produced for the first Test between England and India, which ended in a somewhat inevitable draw.
However, Nottinghamshire do not normally have any problem with it, whereas Essex have found their wicket to be a recurring issue. The ICC nonetheless issued a statement declaring it was “of an unacceptable standard for Test cricket”, after the match referee David Boon opted to report the surface.
Trent Bridge appears to have had little to no negative effect on Notts’ season. In spite of missing star man Stuart Broad for the majority of it, they sit second in Division One of the County Championship.
Essex, on the other hand, have clearly been blighted by their wicket, drawing seven out of twelve games. They have won just one of their last six in all competitions, and that came at the SWALEC stadium, home to Glamorgan.
Grayson’s men will not have entirely given up on promotion, though, particularly as Ravi Bopara and former New Zealand international Jesse Ryder continue to excel with the bat.