When Tom Sears arrived at Derbyshire early in 2005 theclub was on the road to financial meltdown. Losses of over £200,000 had been recorded and the club was as vulnerable as it had probably been for years. While there were dark days after the First World War, in the 1950's and in the 1970's, no organisation could sustain that level of loss over a protracted period.
Sears took a little time to take stock of the situation then presented a radical plan for overhaul to the Committee. He had a good reputation from his days at Worcestershire and he had been appointed for his ability to make the tough decisions and get the club on an even footing.
Three years later he is off to pastures new with an important role within New Zealand cricket having ensured the club returned three successive positive balances in his tenure, a feat pretty much unique in these economic times. He streamlined the administrative side of the club and with the assistance of Keith Loring's team in commercial operations has made the club financially secure for the first time in living memory.
While one should not underestimate the guiding hand of Don Amott in this, the pair presented an off the field dream ticket that has seldom been ours, especially after the bitter years of in-fighting at Committee level that overshadowed so much of the 1980's and 1990's. A visit to the County Ground today is a contrast even from such a visit three years ago. The developments are there for everyone to see and the club has even had envious glances from supposedly bigger counties not all that far away.
Tom Sears has not always made himself popular within the corridors of power but has done his job to perfection. He has ensured that the County stood its ground and that our (and his) voice were heard when the tricky decisions wereup for debate. The future of one day cricket, Kolpak players, the County game and the structure were all subjects that Sears was happy to be quoted on.
One can only hope that Keith Loring, his successor, is as voluble and dogmatic when the tough decisions have to be made. For all the success off the pitch, until we can reinforce it with some more on it, the critics and cynics will be lying in wait. The only shame is that Sears will not be at Derbyshire to enjoy the fruits of his labours, but the additional revenue streams that he was able to create and direct into squad improvement will see results in the net few years.
Hopefully, Tom Sears will raise a glass to such achievements from his New Zealand home and realise the contribution that he made.
He goes with all of our good wishes. Hopefully we will see him back at the County Ground one day, but New Zealand's Cricket Board have got themselves a real good 'un.