Middlesex suffered the humiliation of being relegated just a year after being crowned English county champions on Thursday.
Middlesex collapsed in limp fashion in their final match of the season with last year’s runners-up Somerset, who were also battling to avoid relegation, as they skittled out for just 113 to lose by 231 runs.
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.
Althought 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.
“There’s going to be an investigation tomorrow. Phil Whitticase, another CLO, 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 (CLO) 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.”
Middlesex’s Australian captain Adam Voges 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 line which teams can’t cross,” said Voges.
“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.”
Moving in the opposite direction are Worcestershire as champions of the second tier and Nottinghamshire, who completed a terrific season, having won both the limited-over competitions.