Club Update - GCCC Chairman Roger Cooke
16 October 2018
I hope this letter finds you well after another busy season of cricket across the country with some scintillating matches and the emergence of some exciting young talent. As Chairman of the Club I wanted to write to you to both reflect on the last season and most importantly look forward to the exciting years that lie ahead of us.
The 2018 season
From a County Championship perspective 2018 was very much a season of two halves. Our late surge, of 4 wins and 2 draws in our last 7 matches, led by young, local, Gloucestershire developed talent, was a delight to watch and played a major part in contributing to our best Championship finish since 2011. Our aim is to be a top 8 team across all formats which would ensure our place as a County Championship Division 1 team as well as consistently reaching the knockout stages of the One-Day and T20 tournaments. We believe this is where Gloucestershire should be and that, through developing English qualified talent, we have every chance of achieving this.
In the 50 over campaign we finished 7th in the South Group which was short of our aspirations for a top 4 finish. There is no doubt that the West Country weather played its part with two matches abandoned at Bristol and also local rivals Somerset dodging a Duckworth-Lewis defeat thanks to a delayed start at Taunton. However some very pleasing individual performances, particularly from George Hankins, shone through and there is certainly the opportunity to progress further in 2019.
The T20 seasons of our Gloucestershire 1st and 2nd XI’s were of particular note as, once again, was the performance of Western Storm in the Kia Super League. Our Men’s 1st XI made it to the Quarter Finals before losing to eventual winners Worcestershire whilst our Men’s 2nd XI went a step further in reaching the semi-finals to lose to eventual winners Lancashire. Defending Champions Western Storm became the only Kia Super League (KSL) team to make it to every Finals Day since the league’s inception, much helped by the phenomenal performances of Indian superstar, Smriti Mandhana, who deservedly won Player of the Tournament. The “Storm” lost to Surrey Stars in the semi-final but once again showed how the South West of England remains a fantastic place for Women’s professional cricket.
For many of us the emergence of some excellent young talent in our Men’s teams was a real highlight of the season. It is testament to the squad and the coaching staff that so many talented young players, such as “Players’ Player of the Year” Ryan Higgins, Miles Hammond, Ben Charlesworth, George Drissell and James Bracey have committed their long-term futures to the Club. With overseas stars Michael Klinger (T20) and Dan (Frankie) Worrall already confirmed for the 2019 season our squad is coming together very nicely.
Our strategy of giving young English-qualified cricketers their chance and promoting from within is bearing fruit, as against the policies at some other counties of bringing in experienced players, often non English-qualified, from abroad. Hopefully with so many promising young players it won’t be too long before a Gloucestershire player represents England again.
Another crop of very capable youngsters are also waiting in the wings as part of our “Academy Plus” programme. Jack Gibbs, Greg Willows, Harry Hankins and Adrian Neill are four hugely talented individuals and it is especially pleasing to see some young bowlers in the group ready to take the next step in their careers. It is players like Jack, Greg, Harry and Adrian that have made a real difference in a number of our Second XI matches this year in a season which has once again seen real progress in all formats. As above, the Second XI finished 2nd in the T20 South Group after winning 7 out of 12 matches and made it to the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners Lancashire. The amazing work of our volunteer network contributed over £20k a year to the Academy and they and those members who contribute to the Members’ Fund should receive every plaudit going for their dedication and hard work – thank you!
It is no secret that the last 12 months have been some of the most challenging in the Club’s history in terms of the personal circumstances of a number of people involved across the Club, notably the playing and coaching staff. Our thoughts remain with all those that have been affected by the tragedies that have befallen them and we remain immensely proud of the support, character and love that exists throughout this Club and makes it the strong family that it is.
It would be remiss of me to pen a review of 2018 without mentioning the Cheltenham Cricket Festival which enjoyed its highest attendance for a decade. We were able to enjoy glorious weather for the vast majority of the 11 days of cricket and to have the two County Championship matches go down to the last session of the last day and both end in a clear result was remarkable and testament to the quality of cricket played and the pitches they were played on. There is no doubt that at a time when festival cricket and the County Championship is under pressure from other influences that Cheltenham remains a jewel in the crown for the game.
Off the field we have had a solid year in terms of the financial performance of the Club. A slight dip in Membership has been offset by gate (ticket) revenue which once again was up on the prior year as well as seeing year on year improvements in terms of our hospitality sales, gym revenue and income from ECB sanctioned International cricket. In what are undoubtedly trying times financially our sponsorship and advertising revenue also held firm against our 2017 figures and with a recent restructure of our Commercial Department we are well set for the future.
We have always been very clear and have been for a number of years that the current financial year is a very challenging one for the Club. As above, the core income of the Club (those areas that we have greater control over) remain solid but there are significant differences between 2017 and 2018 in terms of central support. We are over £150k lighter in terms of fixed fee support from the ECB, c. £220k lighter in respect of not having the Women’s World Cup and have also continued to invest in our playing and support squad at a rate second only to Middlesex. We have gone into this year with our eyes wide open and whilst we do still anticipate a significant deficit in this financial year for the reasons laid out above we are budgeting for an even greater surplus in the following year which will more than compensate for any loss this year. It was important to us as an Executive Board that we did not stop investment in the Club for a short period especially with a significantly brighter financial future ahead; we are investing for the long term future of the Club.
We are delighted to announce that Ian Cockbain has been nominated by a number of members to have a testimonial year in 2019 and this has been approved by both the Executive Board and the ECB. We look forward to celebrating his contribution and time to date at the Club across a number of events next year which his Committee will be announcing shortly.
Playing and training facilities at Bristol
One of the major features of this winter will be a review of the facilities used by our players including the pitches they play and practice on. Since the abandonment of the toss there is no doubt that being the home team has become more challenging and we need to make sure that the pitches we use reflect the fact that we are likely to be batting first at Bristol. Sean and his team in Bristol have consistently received a “good” rating for their pitches throughout the whole of the 2018 season and we are all impressed by the hard work, skill and dedication they show to their duties.
An area of investment already agreed by the Board is the transformation of the “Indoor Cricket School” within BS7 Gym to become a high performance gym for the players. This work is set to start imminently and will be completed for the winter strength and conditioning work undertaken by the squad.
We have also significantly increased the amount of time that the main sports hall is to be used by both our playing and development squads. This will undoubtedly provide some challenges to the commercial rental of this space but we recognise the importance of prioritising our own cricket teams.
Fixtures – 2019
The 2019 and 2020 seasons will look very different from 2018, and indeed, very different from each other as the fixture specialists fight with the addition of the Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2019 and then the “new (hundred ball) tournament” in 2020. Whilst we are likely to have a clearer picture by the end of November of this year we are envisaging that in 2019 the County Championship will run from early April to the end of September with a break in August. It is also highly possible that there will be up to 3 spots for promotion to Division 1 during 2019 as the game potentially moves to a format of 10 teams in Division 1 and 8 in Division 2 from the 2020 season onwards. The Royal London One-Day Cup (50 over) is likely to be played in the early part of the year and the group stages will be concluded by the middle of May. The Vitality T20 Blast should start in the middle of July after the conclusion of the Men’s Cricket World Cup. The Kia Super League featuring Western Storm will be played through August.
Although as of yet unconfirmed we are anticipating that the Cheltenham Cricket Festival will likely start in either the week of the 8th or 15th July and as ever we are hoping to have the right blend of white and red ball cricket taking place.
International Cricket in Bristol
2019 represents yet another landmark year for Gloucestershire and the Brightside Ground as we plan for up to 8 full International matches. The first of these is on 14 May in a Day / Night fixture between England and Pakistan Men. We are then anticipating up to 3 Warm-up fixtures in the Men’s World Cup at the back end of May before we host defending World Champions Australia in their first official 2019 Men’s Cricket World Cup fixture against Afghanistan on Saturday 1 June. We then host Pakistan vs Sri Lanka on Friday 7 June and finally, Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka on Tuesday 11 June.
We are also very much hoping to host another England Women’s International and look forward to announcing that in the coming weeks.
Hosting a major event such as the Men’s Cricket World Cup is hugely important for the Club; not only does it generate much needed revenue but it also continues to embed us as a leading International venue for the future. It is 20 years since the last time the Men’s Cricket World Cup was held in this country and it is an amazing event to be part of and staff and supporters should look forward to it with considerable excitement.
In terms of cricket and its governance we are living through a watershed moment in the game’s history.
The rapidly changing formats and scheduling on the county circuit are reflected equally at the International level with an almost uniformly global shift away from red ball cricket to the shorter formats. This means that more than ever it is essential that we as a Club are at the forefront of discussions and in tune with current thinking; providing both challenge and support to stakeholders where appropriate.
One of the major frustrations of the last 12 months was the ECB’s decision to pay Glamorgan £2.5m in return for them agreeing not to bid for test matches (they will have hosted one at Cardiff in the five years to 2019). I have been hugely involved in driving this point at the ECB and whilst we remain disillusioned at the decision that was made we are pleased that the independent review led by the Good Governance Institute, to which I gave evidence, has now issued their report on this matter and has made eleven recommendations as to how the ECB should improve their governance and formal dealings with the First Class Counties and the MCC. We have been assured by the ECB that they are implementing these recommendations urgently.
Another area of concern to us, and many other Counties, is players increasingly moving to other Counties, frequently from non-Test Match Counties to Test Match Counties. The ECB has set up a small working party to review what steps should be taken, if any, to compensate the Counties that have developed the players, often for many years through their Academies. I have accepted an invitation to be one of the five members of this working party.
As well as the work undertaken by myself, Will Brown continues to work very closely with other Chief Executives across the country and with the ECB themselves. He is involved in a number of areas relating to the County Partnership Agreement, Women’s and Girls’ cricket and the proposed New “hundred ball” tournament, representing not only Gloucestershire but the wider County game across a number of these matters. Similarly, Will also works very closely with Bristol City Council (BCC), sitting on their Sports Forum and more recently their “Board” looking at bringing major sporting events to the City and the region. Executive Board Member David Jones sits on the ECB Board of the “New tournament” as an Independent Director. David’s role on this Board is critical in helping to develop a new tournament that ensures all formats of the game are vibrant and his experience is hugely valued by all involved. For the Club to succeed in the long term, it is essential that we are fully engaged with partners such as the ECB, BCC and the cricket network across the country and we are certainly well placed in all of these regards.
Cricket, Customer (including member) Experience and our Community work remain three of the key strategic themes for the Club and we are particularly delighted with the appointment of Pete Lamb as our new full-time Community Engagement Officer in August of this year. How we work with and engage with our local communities will be fundamental to our financial, cricketing and reputational success and we are very excited about the progress we are already starting to make in this area.
The Executive Board are currently working on our strategy for the period 2019-2024 which will align with ECB’s County Partnership Agreement (CPA). We see this as a hugely important period of opportunity for the Club and look forward to sharing this with you all in due course.
Gloucestershire Cricket Board (GCB)
One of the key focal points for the ECB is how County Cricket Clubs and their respective County Boards will work together in the future. They are looking to provide guidance on this ahead of the launch of a new County Partnership Agreement (CPA) between the ECB, County Club and County Board which is due to be effective from February 2020.
As such we continue to work very closely with the Gloucestershire Cricket Board (GCB) to develop a shared strategy to present to the ECB in Spring 2019. There is a huge amount of crossover that already takes place between GCCC and GCB in areas of community work, the performance pathway and Women’s and Girls’ cricket. The GCB is undoubtedly one of the leading “County Boards” in the country (as recognised by their winning of “Board of the Year” at the national “Chance to Shine” awards last year) and we are lucky to have such a fantastic organisation to partner with. This shared strategy will be a key piece of work and will reflect a more unified organisation and approach to best enable, grow and support cricket in all its forms across the region.
As many of you will know I am currently serving my last year as Chairman of the Club, a role which I have greatly enjoyed. I joined the board in 2007 and will formally stand down from both the Chairman role and my position on the main Executive Board at our AGM next spring. Dr Tim Brain, Deputy Chairman of the Club, will also be leaving the Board after 8 years of service and I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank him for all he has done for the Club in that time. We leave the Board at a time when the Club has a bright future ahead of it and we will watch on with interest as it develops further.
In addition to the member voted positions on the Board, which Tim and I will be vacating next year, we are also looking to add to the make-up of our main Club Board with immediate effect and are currently recruiting for up to 4 co-opted Board positions. Creating the shared strategy with the GCB and moving our governance forward, improving our diversity and truly representing the communities of the region are hugely important to us and an area that we believe passionately in. For anyone interested in putting themselves forward for the co-opted roles on the main Executive Board there are more details attached on the accompanying statement.
Overall, I and your Board believe that this has been a year of real progress. We have a very promising squad of players, led by one of the country’s leading coaches, Richard Dawson, and his coaching team.
We have every reason to look towards the 2019 season with real confidence and once again we thank you for your continued support in this endeavour. As ever, as we head into the off season please do stay in touch with the Club; we hugely value your views and input and as the winter represents most of our “planning” time this is the perfect opportunity to help input to the future of our Club.
With kind regards
Roger Cooke FCA, CTA (Fellow)
Gloucestershire Cricket Executive Board seeks co-opted members
At what is a very exciting time for the game of cricket, Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is looking to work with as many diverse communities and individuals as possible and therefore the Board of Directors of the Club is inviting interested parties to apply for one of up to four co-opted roles that currently exist on the Club’s Executive Board.
Those candidates with skills and experience across Facilities and Operations, Legal and Compliance, HR and People, Participation Sports, Cricket, Media, Commercial and also Community Engagement will be particularly welcome. Any successful candidate must be able to commit a minimum of 1 to 2 days a month on a voluntary basis in their respective roles and be expected to work closely with the Executive Team, led by the Club’s Chief Executive.
Never has there been a better time to get involved as Gloucestershire County Cricket Club (GCCC) and the Gloucestershire Cricket Board (GCB) further their commitment to develop a joint strategy for cricket across the region which will be underpinned by a set of shared services. This will enable all forms of cricket to grow, develop and excite our communities under one shared vision.
Gloucestershire Cricket is fully committed to adopting Sport England’s guidance on governance and is working towards fulfilling Tier 3 requirements.
We wish to benefit from the input of suitably capable individuals from a vast range of different backgrounds. We are therefore actively seeking interest from a wide range of individuals who will bring this strength in depth to our Board and truly reflect the diverse nature of the region.
Any applicants are asked to please send a CV with a covering letter to the Company Secretary at “The Brightside Ground, Nevil Road, Bristol, BS7 9EJ” or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a closing date of 31 October 2018.
All applications will then be considered by an independent Nominations Committee during November (at which short-listed applicants will be interviewed by this Nominations Committee) prior to recommendations being made to the main Executive Board in early December.