County Championship Division 1

Voges' county season finishes on sour note

Veteran batsman queries 'rake marks' on turning pitch as Middlesex are relegated just a year after lifting silverware

AFP & Cricket Network

29 September 2017, 09:01 PM AEST

Former Australia batsman Adam Voges has questioned whether county side Somerset 'crossed a line' in preparing an overly spin-friendly wicket after consigning Middlesex to relegation on Thursday.

Middlesex, captained by Voges in their final match of the County Championship season, suffered the humiliation of being relegated just a year after being crowned English county champions.

The Lord's based club collapsed in limp fashion, skittled for just 113 on the final day of the clash with last year's runners-up Somerset, who were also battling to avoid relegation.

Voges, who retired from international cricket last summer, conceded his team had been outplayed but was not impressed by the state of the pitch.

"We came here knowing we would face a pitch that helped Somerset's spinners because every team in the world prepares wickets to aid their strengths, but there needs to be a line which teams can't cross," the 37-year-old said after Somerset's spinners claimed 16 wickets for the match.

"Whether Somerset have crossed that line for this match is for the match referee to decide. I have certainly let him know my thoughts.

"What we didn't expect was rake marks at both ends that were encroaching into danger areas on what was already a worn pitch. That was a surprise.

"I'll admit we have been comfortably outplayed over the four days. The ECB directive is that a pitch cannot be marked poor simply for excessive spin."

Hampshire's draw with Warwickshire sealed Middlesex's fate although the state of the Taunton pitch may still hold a glimmer of hope for them.

Although it received a rating of 'below average' after the match - which does not carry a points deduction - investigations are to continue to see whether it overly favoured the hosts' spinners.

Taunton groundsman Simon Lee (l) chats with umpire Alex Wharf (c) and the ECB's Wayne Noon (r) // Getty
Taunton groundsman Simon Lee (l), umpire Alex Wharf (c) and CLO Wayne Noon (r) // Getty

"There's going to be an investigation tomorrow. Phil Whitticase, another CLO (cricket liaison officer), comes in. He'll conduct an investigation and he will go through my findings and speak to both umpires, both captains and the groundstaff," said ECB cricket liaison officer Wayne Noon.

"He could downgrade it, he could upgrade it, that's entirely up to him. He looks at the evidence and he makes his own call."

Moving in the opposite direction are Worcestershire as champions of Division Two and Nottinghamshire, who completed a terrific season, having won both the limited-over competitions.