Alec Swann - Second hand wickets will not help the one-day cause

THIS week’s visitors to the County Ground in the County Championship – Gloucestershire – have provided the inspiration for the latest offering of this column.

But it isn’t the four-day game that will be discussed but its limited overs cousin.

And more specifically, the pitches that the white ball game is played on at Wantage Road.

The 22 yards used for the CB40 clash with Sussex Sharks on Sunday, for want of a better description, was dire.

Uneven in pace, uneven in bounce and taking excessive spin, it was the antithesis of everything a pitch for a one-day game should be and the proof was indeed in the pudding.

One team struggling to make 180 and the other getting, relatively, nowhere near that tells you all you need to know.

And this is where Gloucestershire come into it.

In 2001, the County played a Norwich Union League match at Cheltenham College.

On a flat surface and with a lightning-fast outfield, the hosts claimed an 83-run victory in a contest that could be considered the ideal template for how to play a one-day game.

After being put into bat (a badly flawed decision that still beggars belief) a Matt Windows century propelled the home side to a massive 344-6 from their 45 overs before the County replied with 261 in just under 41 overs.

The pitch offered next to nothing to the bowlers and everything to the batsmen.

It had decent pace, good bounce and rewarded attacking strokeplay which didn’t need to rely on brute force.

Gloucestershire, who fielded two spinners in Martyn Ball and Jeremy Snape, were then able to strangle the life out of a middle order who had to keep hitting boundaries to stay in the game.

Fast forward almost 11 years and you had the complete opposite.

A turgid pitch that had no real pace, erratic bounce and necessitated the use of force to find the boundary rope when the field was spread.

The only similarity was that the Sussex spinners, despite having no runs to play with, were able to put the brakes on when boundaries had to be found.

And until the County start to play their one-day cricket on more batsman-friendly wickets, they are more likely to struggle rather than prosper.

The signing of Australian Cameron White for the Friends Life t20 is a nod to the glaring fact that the County’s order isn’t blessed with raw power.

This isn’t a crime, it’s just how it is, but this requires complimentary pitches.

The home side are in control of what they play on but too often since in the recent past they have contrived to shoot themselves in the foot.

A nice, fresh pitch for every one-day game simply isn’t going to happen, there aren’t enough strips on the square for that, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask, certainly at this time of the year, for surfaces that aren’t well past their sell-by date.

The County’s batsmen are being given a raw deal if a repeat of the weekend materialises any time soon.

And if success in the shorter forms is to be achieved, as has been stated is the target, then this is an area that has to be addressed.