Enlightenment rather than recrimination were apposite words used at the end of Mark Eklid’s account of last night’s AGM at the cricket club and this is the right time to reflect and to move on.
The threatened rebellion of the membership came to nothing as only one man spoke up. All those commenting about last night below the previous article and all of last week on IMWT had their chance to say something and did nothing. If something or someone bothers you – as the comments below suggest – the time and place to do something about it was last night. Sitting in front of a computer and moaning will change nothing, if change is what you want, while any issues with one person are always going to be there if the individual concerned is always elected unopposed. If you’re unhappy about things – and importantly think you can do better, then stand for election next year.
Anyway, now is the time for such talk to be consigned to history and for everyone to unite behind a new young chairman ahead of the season. The rights and wrongs of the past week or so will doubtless be debated for some time, but while it was poorly handled it is time to move on. In such situations there are often faults on both sides and for what it is worth I feel that the end result is as good as the county could have hoped for.
My final words on recent events are these. I have no issue with the committee whatsoever, as long as they allow talented employees – namely Keith Loring and John Morris - the opportunity to do their jobs unhindered. Maybe there has been some confusion along the way and that was always the intention, but a quick response to the Derby Telegraph’s interview with Don Amott could have defused the situation much more quickly than has been the case.
I am also a believer in the Chairman calling the shots and the committee AS A WHOLE reporting to him. There should be no sub-committees, as in such circumstances do allegations of subterfuge start to germinate. In my experience of over twenty years in committees, they work best when 100% transparent.
I am especially encouraged by the words of Chris Grant after his meteoric rise to Chairman. As I wrote last week, he was the standout candidate to replace Don Amott, himself thankfully restored to the committee, and is already saying things that should reassure those, including myself, who had concerns about the club’s future direction. Discussions are underway about an extension to the contracts of both Keith Loring and John Morris which is encouraging to hear. Regular readers will know that I am a great admirer of the work of both men and Keith Loring should ideally head our commercial direction for a long time to come.
As I wrote last week, some may feel we should wait to the end of the season before offering a new deal to John Morris. After all, last season was far from a success, although the team was somewhat hamstrung by the loss of almost all the seam bowlers. Steffan Jones and Tim Groenewald effectively carried that area last year, the former playing far more than was probably planned, given his coaching commitments.
I feel that Morris should now be given an extension to his contract and thereby secure a consistency of approach for the foreseeable future. He has worked tirelessly in his time at the club with a constantly evolving side and works under the handicap of knowing that it is almost always going to be that way. Morris has said that he can ‘sell opportunity’ at Derbyshire but simply doesn’t have the resources to hang on to players who make the most of such opportunity and are courted by other clubs. As the age of one-club men has long gone, more affluent suitors (if there are any in modern county cricket) will always be able to offer more than we can afford.
Morris presented a five-year plan to the committee, based on the work he is doing, the work in the Academy and the considerable scouting that goes on around the local leagues. Anyone who looks at the current Derbyshire squad will realise that it is a young one and now needs time to develop. Young players like Borrington, Redfern, Hughes, Needham, Clare, Whiteley, Sheikh, Knight, Slater and Poynton could easily emerge as county cricketers of talent, especially now we have a structure in place below the first team squad, with Andrew Harris set to work with the young players as they leave Karl Krikken’s ‘nest.’ They will all progress at different paces of course and some may fall by the wayside, but it is a long time since we have had a clutch of young players of that potential. It would be stupid to rock the boat and adversely impact on their development by bringing in someone new, while the likelihood of their being given earlier opportunity is advanced by the Head of Cricket having greater job security than the six months that it is at present.
We need to remember that most of these lads are under 23 and nowhere even close to their peak. Players like Paul Borrington and Dan Redfern seem to have been around for years, yet are still only 22 and 20 respectively. Likewise I read of this being a crucial season for Jake Needham, and the off-spinner is only 24.
It is spinners I feel especially sorry for with the ECB age incentive payments, as it is widely recognised that they don’t reach their peak until their thirties. Look at the best spinners in the country over the past few years – Robert Croft, Shaun Udal and Graeme Swann. All reached their peak after their thirtieth birthday. It is unrealistic to expect the craft to be mastered earlier, but the pre-season signs are that Jake is coming along pretty well.
So from me it is no more moans and time to look forward to a new season. Along the way we will have our share of bad days – it wouldn’t be a Derbyshire cricket season without them – but we’ll enjoy the good ones all the more because of that and I hope that everyone will now get behind the lads and hope for the best – starting next week!