From the CEO’s Chair – 18 May

Wednesday 18th May 2011

I have discovered a curiosity of writing a regular blog is that when you have the most to write you have the least time to write about it, so this once again represents another two week catch up.

The day after my last blog, the Chairman and I conducted a members’ forum during the Northamptonshire LV=CC match. Once again it was an hour of very high quality discussion on how the Club is currently operating. Thank you to those who stayed on after the end of play on a chilly evening to ask some good questions. This style of forum will take place during every home Championship match (including Tunbridge Wells) and I do hope that they continue to be well attended. If you want to hear more about cricket aspects, the Chairman of Cricket and Paul Farbrace will be conducting every second forum.

George and I attended another ECB meeting on the future structure of the County programme later that week. The one remaining item for discussion, following earlier decisions on LV=CC and t20, was the CB40 competition. There is a feeling, coming mostly from Team England, that counties should be playing 50 over cricket. The logic is that this provides the England side with the best prospect of success in ODIs. Whilst this may be a factor, the Kent view remains that we must continue to offer cricket that the supporter wants to see. In Kent, there is no doubt that the Sunday afternoon 40 over match starting after lunch is very popular. During May, we host 3 home games and the last two have seen gates of 2,000 plus. When the competition was briefly 50 overs we saw barely 1,000 attendees. Having taken the decision to reduce the t20 competition, we simply cannot turn away from another popular form of the game. A decision is expected shortly.

The last couple of weeks has been a challenging period for the captain, coaches, players and physios. I know that every one of them is giving their utmost. It is great to know that our supporters see this too. I had a great illustration of this yesterday as I was on my way to a meeting in London, travelling by train. A man in the ticket office told me he was proud that the team had bounced back against Yorkshire and it sent a shiver down my spine. A great acknowledgment that the team’s efforts really are appreciated.

I, like the man at the station, spent Sunday listening to Radio Kent’s coverage of the game at Headingley. Matt Cole does a magnificent job on commentary and his passion for Kent Cricket shines through. His description of the closing stages in the gloom was excellent, and I really do encourage you to tune in if you can’t make a one-day game (they are all available ball-by-ball online). I am doing what I can to encourage Radio Kent to recommence their live coverage of Championship cricket. I know it is missed by our supporters and following on Twitter, Cricinfo, Ceefax etc is not quite the same. If you feel the same, why not drop Radio Kent a line and let them know!

The redevelopment continues to move on as planned. Work over the last few weeks has been stepped up on the Pavilion and Les Ames Stand. In the meantime we have had the excitement of the floodlights being switched on. After a week of preparation they were turned on for the first time last Friday, an exciting moment and I have to say they looked absolutely great. I am bound to say that of course, but the view was shared by all to whom I spoke. The ground looked superb and I now can’t wait for the first t20 when they are in operation. A special mention to the supporters who came to have a look. To come and support the switching on of the lights really is commitment to the cause!

The Hoppers’ Tie Club held their Luncheon at the St Lawrence Ground last Friday too, and it was great to see some Kent greats on the ground – Norman Graham, Alan Ealham, Bob Wilson, Derek Underwood, Derek Ufton, John Shepherd – to name a few, I am bound to have missed people. It really is a very special Club and the warmth of feeling towards Kent County Cricket Club is wonderful – you get a real sense of where the Club has come from and the rich history. I am a very proud wearer of the Hoppers’ Tie every Monday, and it reminds me when I put it on of all those that have gone before me in administering the Club.

I was delighted to learn this week that we have sold out all the publicly available seating in the Woolley for the India match, a great sign so early. Advance ticket sales for twenty20 are going well too, and I think we can expect some decent crowds for the competition this year following the disappointments of 2010. Make sure you book your tickets early to secure the best prices – and act fast if you want to watch from the Woolley.

We play Sussex on Sunday. No rain since 28thFebruary and none forecast, but it is bound to break soon. If you are yet to see Kent in action in 2011 then why not make this your first visit? What could be better than a local derby in the spring sunshine. See you there!