SOMERSET'S 12-point deduction for preparing a substandard pitch against Essex in the 2019 County Championship decider has been reduced to eight ahead of this season’s revamped first-class competition.

A Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) disciplinary panel in November 2019 rated the Taunton surface ‘poor’ due to excessive unevenness of bounce, imposing a 24-point penalty, half of which was suspended for two years.

With a shortened and separate first-class season being held last year, it was decided to defer the punishment until this summer, but the England and Wales Cricket Board and Somerset petitioned the CDC to reconsider the sanction.

That was because when the initial penalty was doled out, it was thought there would be a 14-match, two division format to the LV= Insurance County Championship but the format has been changed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Instead, the counties have been initially split into three seeded conferences of six, playing each side within their group home and away, leading to the CDC to reconsider its punishment.

A direct eight-point deduction will apply and if Somerset commit more breaches of pitch regulations, in addition to further sanctions being imposed, the CDC panel will determine how the suspended penalty will be exercised.

The ECB added in a statement: “All parties understand that the (currently) suspended element relating to the 2022 season will need to be revisited once the format of the 2022 LV= Insurance County Championship is known.”

Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry said: “Obviously we are pleased that the ECB have taken the decision to amend the sanction proportionately in light of the new structure of the domestic season in 2021.

“We are grateful that we have clarity at this time and with training going exceptionally well so far, everyone associated with the club is looking forward to what will hopefully be another successful year.”

Somerset CEO Gordon Hollins added: “We are pleased that we can now put this matter behind us and focus on the forthcoming season.”