Nothing concrete; everything implied
Forum in full flow
By London Leprechaun
October 3 2017
London Lprechaun reports on the post season forum. Much was said, much was implied, nothing concrete emerged. Not surprising so soon after the season. No doubt others present can pick up on points missed from this report.
Meeting was full but not packed. Gus Fraser and James Franklin were in attendance. Started with Mike O’Farrell asking that proceedings be conducted with courtesy and respect – we are all in this together.
However it is quite difficult to report anything concrete on the evening because so much of what was said was by implication.
Gus made a statement which accepted that mistakes had been made during the season: in declarations, selection, delays in getting contracts tied down without being more specific. But the bottom line he said was we did not play well enough and crucially did not score enough runs.
Mike said that there will be a thorough review of everything that has happened during the year so there was nothing to report at this meeting about what will be different next year. Which just four days after the season end seems fair enough. Knee jerk reaction is not helpful.
When it was opened to the floor the statements and questions covered all the issues that everyone has been concerned about this year:
- Overrates. Why do we seem to spend more time during play discussing tactics then other teams. James Franklin accepted this might be an issue which he will look at. (that and a couple of other comments implied he will be captain next year)
- Captaincy, ruthlessness or lack of it: the Essex match and why we did not try and chase down the win against Surrey at Lord’s; the response was that tactics are often a matter of opinion but it was implied that we might have got things wrong tactically.
- Team selection; why out of form players were not dropped sooner to give younger players a chance. In response Gus said that he always wanted to give a player one more chance rather then one less, so again possibly implying/agreeing that some players had been picked for too long.
- Alleged dissension in the dressing room – this was strongly denied by Gus and Mike. There was a meeting on Friday of the whole playing staff and there had been a collective determination to put things right in 2018.
- Ryan Higgins leaving. Gus said that he had wanted to bat in the top five and this could not be guaranteed. He had been offered a contract.
- Uxbridge. By implication (again) we may have suffered because we did not have professional ground staff there. We could not have used Radlett because the pitch is still too risky for a 1st class game; Merchant Taylors was out of bounds as in term time. Richard Goatley said that we were hoping to get all seven Championship Games at Lord’s next year but that could be at the expense of Royal London Cup Games. But we need, he said, to get more outgrounds into the equation. There is discussion going on with Southgate.
- There was a lot of emotion from some members; possibly a bit over the top – such as saying it was the worst year since the 1950s. (They must have forgotten the dark years of lurking round the lower parts of Division 2 not that long ago). But that was also tempered by others pointing out the handful of points separating the teams from fourth to seventh (hence the focus on arrowgate) It was a very disappointing season but we don’t need a football style response was the sense of those members suggesting a need for perspective. There was certainly no general call for a whole sale clear out, though the mood seemed to be that younger players do need to be given more chances not just as temporary substitutes when regular first team players are away. Max Holden at Uxbridge was cited as an example of this.
- Speaking of arrowgate, Richard said that we were still talking to the ECB; he had had a phone conversation with them just before the meeting. They are not being unsympathetic he said and discussions are still going on. A comment from a member that we should go to judicial review did not have any support.
Some other points of interest that came up in the questions
- Middlesex youth development programme is hailed by the ECB as a model for other counties.
- There is a big investment going on in women’s’ cricket in the County. The women’s team managed to win their last two games to stay in Division 1.
- We are looking at live streaming of our matches but in the words of Richard “want it to be of high quality.” That is not, just a static webcam from one end.
- No players are out of contract currently; contrary to rumours Dawid Malan signed a long term contract in January this year so no worries there;
- Relegation has no immediate impact on finances. Our major sponsors are here for the long haul and we have a total of 61 commercial partners of one size or another.
- Having players picked for England is good for us financially.
- We have planned/budgeted for the possibility of Steven Finn losing his central contract.
As a final statement Mike reinforced the statement that the Board are taking collective responsibility for the season but it is too early to see what changes are needed. We are still in very good shape financially and structurally; our work in the county on development and increasing engagement with cricket in schools and communities is highly regarded; we have three players in the young Lions; our sponsors are sound. While members quite naturally have a focus on the success of our men’s First XI, we also need to see a bigger picture and in the words of Corporal Jones: “Don’t panic.”
And one further piece of info post the forum. Richard said that we are still waiting for MCC to endorse the plans for the new super Middlesex room mentioned at the mid season forum.
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Hmmmm,plans for Middlesex Room??.....Sure they are not just gathering dust along with all the artefacts removed when we were made 'temporarily homeless' those years ago?!
Many thanks for such a comprehensive report.
Although no players are out of contract, presumably some will wish to leave. It would be good to freshen the squad with a few youngsters.
Was anything said about overseas players for 2018?
See Arrowgate thread- likely to be 9 teams per division next year. (so said David Fulton on Sky)
Fingers made an interesting suggestion that, in order to save time, Toby Roland-Jones should begin walking back to his mark after a batsman has played a shot rather than stand by the stumps at the non-striker’s end. However, surely this would encourage batsmen to attempt an extra run, something which could actually be helpful for us if the fielder makes a direct hit, although otherwise it would make it harder for us to keep the scoreboard down.
It is understandable that virtually every supporter believes it was the incorrect decision to not make Essex follow on. One supporter went into great detail about how few overs we had bowled across the season by the end of Essex’s first innings (it was only April), and he added that it was our last County Championship match before the break for the Royal London Cup, meaning there was no reason for us to be protective of our bowlers’ workloads. I remember being at the Essex match and feeling great disappointment when it was announced that we declined to enforce the follow-on.
It was interesting that Angus Fraser said he likes to give a player one more chance rather than one less, as it sounds contradictory considering Max Holden lost his place after a decent Middlesex debut.
Towards the end of the forum, treasurer David Kendix said that the club would appreciate the assistance of any members who have a skill or expertise that could be helpful to our business plan, as the club have already benefited in this way. I am tempted to tell the club that I believe I am capable of helping in this regard, as I am confident I can bowl six deliveries inside four minutes to thus help our over rate. My deliveries may not be fast or threatening, but I would like to think I can get through six balls quicker than several members of our playing staff using their present run-up.
Although Richard Goatley said that several County Championship matches in 2018 are likely to begin on a Friday, I am uncertain whether that will apply across the season. Some members of the media reacted to the 2017 fixturelist by proclaiming that it contained lots of weekend cricket, but that ended up mainly applying to the first half of the season. The amount of weekend Championship cricket in 2018 will depend on the amount of occasions weekends are set aside for the knockout stages of limited-overs competitions. Once one round of matches is pushed away from the weekend, the following couple of rounds often have to be to ensure the players feel they are getting sufficient rest time.
Brilliant JW,after all the stuff about what was and wasn't said last evening what was inferred and what was not at least somebody is prepared to call a spade a spade and not make out it's a shovel.
In the past, the club have tended to either produce shorter reports of forums or to not publish anything, but this report is quite comprehensive. It wouldn’t surprise me if the media pick up on some of the points raised, especially as the report gives the impression we have accepted relegation. However, it has to be borne in mind that the forum took place before it was revealed that we were appealing our points deduction.
The pitch outcome has been accepted, though Gus still clearly thinks they went too far.
Any fool knows that the only way you can have no "below average" pitches is by having no "above average" pitches either. If (as is surely the case) "below average means "well below average", that is the terminology that should be used. The existing one is illogical nonsense, which is I suppose to be expected from the ECB.
I wrote my post anticipating that the media and/or supporters of other counties might pick up on the report of the forum. However, I don’t think that has happened yet.
'There is a wider issue for us, rather than the game. We won't be playing on spinning wickets net year, as there are unintended consequences of doing so.
If you're a batter, do you want to play your cricket here when first innings is 200 v 200? Probably not. If you're a seamer, do you want to play on a wicket where spinners open the bowling? Probably not. And if you;re Jack Leach, do you want to play on a wicket where your wickets are discounted?'
The above two paragraphs in this link-
so, regardless of whether they think Gus was over the top in his criticism of Rakehampton (AKA Ciderabad) they must have come to the conclusion it isn't the way to proceed in the future.
The pitch issue (as a possble cause of deduction) is dead. It is an interesting development thoigh, given that a number of people have justified the Taunton wickets by suggesting they are necessary to help English batsmen come to terms with sub-continent wickets, and also that they make for more varied cricket.
Matthew Maynard also said that it took a lot of skill to produce a pitch like that for the Middlesex game, yet now those specific skills are no longer to be used. Maynard (and of course Chris Rogers) won't be there next season; makes me wonder whether people were already pulling in different directions on this. Or whether there is genuine concern that one slip up next year could have disastrous consequences.
Do you mean graveyard for batsmen (Ciderabad) or for bowlers (M5)? If Somerset are really going to carry on as they are, why is Leo Cooper clearly stating otherwise?
I always thought that one of the issues with preparing three day wickets was that it could undermine the confidence of your own batsmen for wherever they played. His reasoning is rather different, that it hinders recruitment of, well just about anybody. but it kind of confirms that in the medium term it could be a double-edged sword, whatever the short term benefits.
As Lee Cooper said, the Middx track wasn't vastly different to a number of other ones that were used for home games over the preceding 18 months or so.