Slow Lord’s pitch creates “attritional cricket” between Middlesex and Somerset

Middlesex's James Franklin bowling.

Middlesex's James Franklin bowling. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Middlesex all-rounder James Franklin fears the new County Championship toss rule is stifling the competition and generating “attritional cricket”.

Since the rule change, which allows visiting teams to insert the opposition without a coin toss, was introduced at the start of the season, Middlesex have drawn all five of their Division One fixtures.

The pace of the game was slow again on the opening day of their current clash against Somerset at Lord’s, where the visitors chose to bat first and crawled to 219-2 from 80 overs before bad light stopped play.

“Right now we’re playing on some low, slow wickets and that means the tactics you have to apply when you’re bowling are very different to last year,” said Franklin.

“It’s pretty attritional cricket at the moment in Division One, with teams trying to wear one another down and if you get half a day, or a full day’s rain, it means the game’s going nowhere. So it’s pretty frustrating.

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“I think groundsmen have got a bit nervous about what they’re preparing and they’re taking all the moisture out of the pitch, making sure that opposition teams want to turn up and toss.

“It’s too far in favour of batting first and batting teams out of the game, whereas last year if you bowled a team out for about 220 the opposition still had a chance to bowl themselves back into the game.

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“Now it’s done a full 180 (degrees) – it’s gone too far the other way and I think it’s up to the groundsmen to back their skills and make sure they get a balance.”

Toby Roland-Jones (2-33) made an early breakthrough by pinning Somerset opener Marcus Trescothick (8) lbw, but former Middlesex captain Chris Rogers put on 85 for the second wicket with Tom Abell.

Roland-Jones eventually had Abell caught behind for 41, but James Hildreth (60 not out) joined Rogers in an unbroken stand of 125 as the latter survived a close leg before appeal by Franklin.

Rogers, playing his first county match at Lord’s since his departure from Middlesex, went on to bring up his century with a single to mid-on and finished the day unbeaten on 104.

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