From the CEO’s Chair – Jamie Clifford’s Blog, 16th August

Tuesday 16th August 2011

From the CEO’s Chair – Jamie Clifford’s Blog, 16th August

My last blog was before the quarter-final at Grace Road, and I can confirm that it was considerably easier to write about the excitement in the build up to that game than the disappointment after. Clearly the defeat was difficult to take. Paul Farbrace, Rob Key and the players have all talked about the disappointment and there is little I can add. I would though, just like to thank those supporters who made the trip to Leicester and indeed to all away games during the season.Your commitment is tremendous and appreciated by all the players.

Going straight into Canterbury Week was a big challenge for the squad, but they responded in some style, with two convincing wins. The Week, despite the weather on the second and third day, was a great success. Nearly 10,000 people came through the gates and I am sure all will have had a great Canterbury Week experience. The staff worked extremely hard in the lead up to and during the Week and I would like to thank them for their efforts. There is no doubt they understand it is a very special part of what Kent County Cricket Club is, and I believe that they delivered an excellent 160th Week.

There were a number of talking points during the Week. On the first day the wreath laying took place at the Lime Tree, with the PA used for the service for the first time. I thought this was excellent, with large numbers of supporters joining the short ceremony. Canon Chris Byers used words from the dedication service at the re-planting of the lime tree, and they worked extremely well.The Club is grateful for all the work the Supporters’ Club do during the year, and it is lovely that this particular tradition is so well celebrated.

The second day, Ladies' Day, was a great day – not for the Fashion on the Outfield competition, or the fifes and drums, but for the renaming of the Annexe Stand. Both Derek Underwood and Alan Knott were warmly received by the crowd, and it was tremendous to see their names added to the other Kent greats on the stands. I was particularly pleased that ‘Knotty’ could make it; his visits to the St Lawrence are infrequent but are so welcome.I hope that in future the great pair will be seenat the ground more and more.

As it turned out Friday was the final day, with James Tredwell and Darren Stevens running through the Surrey batting in quick time. Darren’s 11 for 70 will shortly appear on the honours boards which can now be found in the Cornwallis Room in the Cowdrey Stand.

Friday was also notable for the bad light that prevented play during the mid-afternoon – which was very frustrating for everyone. As I explained to the many people who asked, playing regulations do not allow us to turn on the floodlights – as they do for Test matches. This is something I will raise with ECB as I can’t help feeling that we are short changing supporters. We have lights, so let’s use them. I am not sure what the thinking is behind not allowing their use.If a rain interruption is a random event then so too is bad light, I don’t believe a county will gain an unfair advantage through the use of lights.

With no play on Saturday we were all able to enjoy watching England go to number one in world Test cricket. I believe this is the product of a very good strategy that ECB have worked to for a long time (as far back as 1999). This strategy covered the establishment of the county academies; creation of a centre of excellence at Loughborough; setting delivery expectations of County Cricket Boards; proper investment in Team England; central contracts and crucially the expectation of high performance standards.Mike Atherton has recently written an appraisal of this strategy, and if you can get behind the Times Online pay-wall, it is well worth a read.

On Sunday,we welcomed The Netherlands to Canterbury, and off the field the Club held a family day. Entry was free for children and there was also plenty for youngsters to do around the ground. I thought there was a nice atmosphere and some will have enjoyed their first Canterbury Week experience. It is certainly something we will look to repeat in future.

Cricket at Canterbury is coming thick and fast now with a Sky televised, floodlit fixturetoday, followed by a Championship game against Middlesex starting on Wednesday at midday due to the late finish oftoday's CB40 fixture. Then the Indians come to Canterbury, about which there is much excitement. We are close to this game being sold out, with the last few hundred tickets now on sale.

If you have been to the ground in the last week, I hope you can see we are getting there with this phase of the redevelopment work. I believe the ground is slowly returning to the lovely place to watch cricket it always has been and if you haven’t seen the improvements yet, they are certainly worth coming to see.