Yesterday brought together the good and the great from two long-standing cricketing establishments.
Two clubs that in truth have vastly different backgrounds and histories, but with one thing in common, a modern-day interest that will ensure the futures of both clubs are much more closely entwined.
Middlesex County Cricket Club, twelve time winners of the domestic County Championship, one of the most successful First–Class counties in the history of the game and proud to list three of England’s current Test and One-Day stars within its playing ranks, and Hertfordshire based Radlett Cricket Club, came together to celebrate an historic milestone that will change the future of cricket for both parties for good.
Yesterday marked the completion of a two and a half year long project to redevelop the Radlett CC club house and cricket facilities, to provide not only exceptional practice and match facilities in the future for Radlett CC’s own membership and thriving colts set-up, but to also provide a permanent training and practice base for Middlesex County Cricket Club’s professional playing squad, and a home ground for Middlesex’s Second Eleven moving forward.
Middlesex CCC has for over 135 years been in the extremely fortunate position to be able to name Marylebone Cricket Club’s Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood as its home ground, having played there under a tenancy agreement since 1877. Whilst calling Lord’s “home” clearly comes with a huge array of advantages, there are of course certain complications that the club faces as a result of not being in complete control of their own destiny as tenants of MCC.
The complications of this unique situation are something that Middlesex’s Managing Director of Cricket, Angus Fraser, knows all too well, having spent the entire eighteen years of his professional playing career at Lord’s with Middlesex…………..
“Everyone in cricket knows there is no better place in the world to play cricket than Lord’s and I have had the good fortune of working at the ground for almost 30 years. Even now I still feel extremely privileged to be able to drive through the Grace Gates on my way to the office and walk through the Long Room whenever I want.
“Being based at Lord’s, however, does bring complications for Middlesex CCC. The MCC are extremely accommodating but during the summer months Lord’s is an extremely busy place, which at times makes it extremely difficult for Middlesex’s coaches and playing staff to get the facilities they require.
“This has historically led to Middlesex CCC leading a slightly nomadic existence, in that we often have to find places to practice away from Lord’s and our 2nd XI flit around the county playing at different venues each week. The sense of ‘living out of the boot of your car’ has been stated as one of the reasons for disgruntled players leaving us.
“In an attempt to correct this and have greater control of what we can or cannot do, Middlesex CCC has for some time been looking for a venue that it could call it’s ‘home away from Lord’s, a place where our squad could train when Lord’s is unavailable and our 2nd XI could base themselves.
“Radlett CC was identified as the place where we would like to achieve this goal and thankfully they were equally keen to have us on board. These facilities, which on the cricket side include a luxurious home dressing-room, gym, physiotherapy room, first-class standard grass pitches and a bespoke net system will make a huge difference to Middlesex CCC. They will allow our professional staff to train and practice at a venue that feels like home and has excellent facilities. Radlett CC will also provide our young cricketers with a wonderful place to develop their skills. In the future they can have no excuses for not making the most of their time with the club and becoming the cricketers they could be.
“Middlesex CCC’s aim over the coming years is to produce as many ‘home-grown’ cricketers as it can and this project gives us an excellent chance of achieving that goal.”
The partnership and the investment that comes from Middlesex County Cricket Club’s involvement clearly also has huge advantages for those within Radlett CC too. Commenting on what the redevelopment and partnership means to them, Club President of Radlett, Philip Marsh added ……..
“It is very difficult for a cricket club, with no other sport involved, to survive at the top level of amateur cricket. We are flattered by the fact that Middlesex chose Radlett as their partner for such investment and know that this will secure our future for years to come. The facilities we now have are second to none, at our level, in the area, and probably in the home counties.”
Marsh was joined by Middlesex CCC’s President, Geoff Norris for the official ribbon cutting ceremony and opening of the club-house, along with England Test Captain, Andrew Strauss, Middlesex Captain’s Neil Dexter and Chris Rogers and Middlesex all-rounder and former Radlett CC player Gareth Berg to mark this historic occasion for the club.
After the formal opening proceedings were completed yesterday, Middlesex CCC’s Second Eleven were scheduled to take on Gloucestershire CCC’s Seconds in a Second Eleven Trophy matchhowever prolongued rain led to the cancellation of the match without a ball being bowled.
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