BOURNEMOUTH Cricket Club's opening match of the Southern Premier Division season was abandoned after less than one hour of play.

Senior panel umpires Dean Daniels and Huw Evans (chairman of the South Coast Panel of Officials) called the match against Hook & Newnham Basics off in the 15th over at Chapel Gate deeming the pitch to be "unsafe for the players".

Hook were 28 for four at this point, with former Minor Counties seamer Dan Conway, bowling at his favoured rugby end of C2, grabbing three of the wickets.

Bowling cross-seam, Conway was getting excessive bounce off the rock-hard surface and when he struck Hook batsman Harry Warner in the chest, the umpires called the captains together and abandoned the match.

The 65-acre site at Chapel Gate is owned by Bournemouth University, who are responsible for the preparation of the three cricket pitches the club uses at weekends and in midweek.

The cricket club, which pays a hefty annual rent for the privilege of playing there, is not allowed to do any work on the pitches.

Bournemouth skipper Chris Park said “how embarrassed he is for Bournemouth CC” that the Hook match should have been abandoned.

It is only the second time in the league’s 23-year history a match has been called off because of an unsafe surface, the previous occurrence being at Cove in 2000.

“Unfortunately, I’ll be the first to admit I saw this coming six or seven weeks ago," said Park.

"Without going into too much detail, the pre-season preparation - or lack of it - set the alarm bells ringing.

“From what I understand of it, the two new groundsmen (appointed by the university) unfortunately don’t have huge amounts of cricket pitch experience and it seems have their hands tied behind their back."

Park continued: “Regarding C2, yes quite major korrowing/fraizing of the square took place last September.

“Back in early March, the square looked very healthy and things looked positive.

“In my opinion, pre-season pitch preparation has not been up to the standard a decent cricket pitch requires.

“Bournemouth field six adult men’s teams, two ladies’ sides and a staggering 14 or 15 junior teams, all desperate to play good cricket on good quality pitches and outfields.

“I can only apologise to Hook & Newnham Basics for what has happened. The umpires (Dean and Huw) dealt with things brilliantly.”

Park feels Bournemouth University should be "held accountable" for the state of the pitch.

A Bournemouth University spokesperson said: “We always want the conditions of our sporting facilities to be the best that they can be and apologise that standards have fallen short on this occasion.

"We’re committed to working with the Cricket club, ECB and Southern Premier Cricket League (SPCL) to resolve all of their concerns, and are in constant dialogue with them, including an emergency pitch inspection with the ECB where advice was given, which we are looking to implement this week, as well as a joint action plan to ensure that high quality cricket can continue on the site this season."