David Bailey's 2021 report delivered at the Cheshire CCC Annual General Meeting at Toft CC on Monday 22 November 2021...
As the AGM approaches, my thoughts turn to the events of the last two years and the international chaos that Covid19 created as well as the sadness of so many affected people throughout the world. The ability to overcome this is currently thought to be around the corner but... it’s still there and may even still be around for the summer of 2022.
I must congratulate all those who have helped to keep our cricket going and with such good results despite the challenges laid before their feet. I made the point of thanking Peter Babbage and Diane at the 'end of season presentation evening' for the incredibly patient way in which they handled, often chaotic events, brought about by Covid19 and fixture clashes, and I have no qualms about repeating it here tonight. Equally our other members who helped in their various ways are to be congratulated.
2021 was a good year for Cheshire CCC. Sadly there was no T20 for us to have a go at but the 50 over KO Trophy and the three day championship matches were completed with considerable success and with some outstanding performances which were let down by the weather dashing our attempts at greater glory!.
The affects of Covid19 did give us the opportunity to look at ourselves to see where we are going, where we are being led and where we want to go.This process was greatly emphasised by the appearance of a new County Partnership Agreement which all member Counties of the NCCA had to sign. One agreement for the County Board and one for the independent counties. There is no doubt that the ECB are hoping that the almost impossible tasks set by parts of this new agreement for an Independent county, will encourage counties to consider the merits of joining forces with their County Board. This has already happened to at least two counties. This is something that we have discounted for many years but perhaps now we are beginning to think that there may be some merit. We will be looking at and digesting this opportunity in due course.
Over recent years we have had considerable co-operation with the Board especially in the area of youth transition along the infamous 'transparent pathway.' This has led to several youngsters moving on to first class cricket with our blessing and encouragement. Further improvements and benefits are being investigated. To this end our Academy XI is playing more matches than ever before and improving the competitive nature of these fixtures.
Our host Clubs must once again be thanked and congratulated for the way in which they handled our visits. Visiting teams are always highly impressed by the quality of the attention and the flavour of the food. Each year we have a new Club coming on board and this year Didsbury made a real show appreciated by all under a very hot sun.
One of the main challenges of the 2021 season was the non availability of players. This situation was not due necessarily to Covid, poor health or injury but by fixture congestion which led to players being forced to consider club before county or vice versa when these clashes occurred. This is a side to NCCA cricket which is becoming more pronounced as clubs seek to succeed by encouraging players to join them. Ironically most of these players will be in demand because they have been successful in our county team! We will be considering our response to this situation. It seems possible that if a player opts for club before county then he will no longer thereafter be available for county selection. Cheshire is a proud and successful cricketing county which selects cricketers who are proud of and who want to play for their county. We are delighted that the league fixture makers have invited us to join them in their deliberations so as to reduce where practical, the impact on selection can be minimised. We look forward to the outcome.
Over the next few weeks we will be attempting to complete or at least position ourselves where the demands of the ECB re Diversity, Transparency and related matters are considered prior to a joint meeting with the ECB in the company of the Cheshire Board in January 2022. No doubt recent events regarding racism in sport will also be considered as part of this process by your committee once further information, following meetings this week, is made available via the ECB.
The Showcase match (created by the ECB is an opportunity for fundraising) against Warwickshire was cancelled due to lack of enough good players available for Warwickshire due to a variety of other first class games being played on the same day. Warwickshire CCC were very disappointed as they indicated that they were looking forward to coming to Cheshire. WCCC have generously invited the county team to Edgbaston for a day before the season starts. Next season the Showcase match will be on a Sunday. The opposition is not yet known but at least a week end match will give us the opportunity to make some profit, as intended by the ECB, from the match.
Whilst suffering the anxiety and uncertainty of Covid19 we were able to consider the future of NCCA cricket as we see it. There is no doubt that the demands on our game are getting bigger and the scale of talent is also improving due to investment in various coaching, teaching and training methods. Clubs are also improving their lot in pursuit of more members and greater success which attracts the cricketers of the day. In my opinion the quality of NCCA cricket has improved in recent years. This has however led to a variety of facilities at different counties created by funding shortages. We feel that the ECB are, rightly, driving this improvement forward. We wonder whether this is to close the gap between first class and NCCA counties so that in the future one cricketing pyramid will be created.
Finance will always be the controller in respect of improving services. Whilst the current support from the ECB is adequate (but maybe not guaranteed) the demands are beginning to stretch liquidity and therefore we need to grow our sponsors and not rely continually on our already generous sponsors. We are forever grateful to all our sponsors, with approximately £10,000 coming our way but falling short of the £20,000 that we feel we need to widen our player support and use of vital facilities. This winter we will be having specialist nets before and after Christmas for the promising spinners, opening bowlers and wicket keepers - an example of what we could do with improved income.
We have a shortage of members on our committee but it does not appear to have affected our running of the County Club. We have therefore not been pursuing the vacancies. Following on from this we are considering actively the creation of a Management Committee of, say 6 members, who would meet regularly whilst the main committee would meet only when required about 3 times a year. In the interim the minutes etc of the Management Committee would be circulated to all committee members so that they are kept well informed and can question or give approval to the various decisions as required.
We feel that if this form of management is introduced we would be able to encourage new and younger blood to help in the running of the club without the need for tying themselves to a committee. They would be tasked with a specialist duty of their own reporting direct to the Management Company eg marketing/fund raiser, events manager etc. or just helping (as the Seniors so promptly answered the call) with the day to day match duties in a variety of ways.
To me this will all create some exciting times ahead. I hope that these new advances, when sorted, will bring forward a new vigour to the County Club and create that extra energy which makes all the difference to friendship, loyalty and betterment. To this end I have advised the committee that I wish to retire as your Chair at the end of this next summer. I am running out of the puff that has kept me going and feel the time is now right (or overdue) for me to go. I am sure we will find a younger person with the drive and vigour for the future development as well as a business man to drive us positively in to the 21st century.
In closing I would like to thank the officers of the club for their endeavours over the year. A special mention to Jim Law for the impressive work being undertaken on the new web site as well as the continuous bombardment of the social media with blogs and photos. Additionally Jim is working hard on the readiness of the Club for the live streaming of 1st team matches as required for next season by the NCCA. The purchase of the necessary kit is under way and all host clubs will be advised of what facilities are required for this streaming to be properly undertaken
To John Petch who with his own style of humour has weathered some extraordinary occasions over the new CPA agreement and all that goes with it as well as the uncertainty or last minute information coming out of the NCCA.
I reserve my comments for the Treasurer, Keith MacGuffie, as he is standing down after a very successful number of years, for the committee meeting later. An important role - but one for which we have an able and familiar face standing in the wings to join us as our new Treasurer.
Chairman Cheshire County Cricket Club