Over 150 members gathered in the Thomas Lord Suite last night for a meeting that came in two sections.
The first section covered matters concerning the Club’s cricket season. The panel consisted of Chairman Ian Lovett, Chief Executive Vinny Codrington, and Managing Director of Cricket Angus Fraser. Ian Lovett was delighted that the Club had finished 3rd in the LV=County Championship, our highest position since 1995. In addition, he felt that our position in the CB40 was exactly the same as last year (finishing 2nd in our group), and the performances in the Twenty20 were similar to the previous year (disappointing).
The signing of James Harris (beating 12 other counties to his signature) and Joe Denly the previous year demonstrated what progress the Club had made and is a sign that we are heading in the right direction.
Questions ranged from Finn knocking over the stumps when he bowls (it is Steven wanting to get close into the stumps), whether we will ever play two spinners (we did at Surrey), and whether we will play 1st class cricket at Radlett (it wasn’t the intention but so impressed have people been by the improvement in facilities that it was a case of “never say never”).
Angus was asked if we intended to recruit for T20 next year, and he felt we could strengthen the side with a world class batsman, but we would not go down the route of getting an overseas player for its own sake.
Commitments meant that Paul Stirling had not played a lot of 4 day cricket, but we hoped to help him develop in this area.
Fixtures next season were complicated by the Champions Trophy taking place in June, meaning the majority of the T20 would take place in July. However, it is most likely that seven of our LV= County Championship matches will be at Lord’s.
There was disappointment with the side we put out against the West Indies. Angus felt that it was a decent side who had played poorly, rather than a poor side.
A Working Party had already met to discuss plans for the 150th anniversary in 2014, and a meeting had been held with the MCC as it is also their 200th year at Lord’s. A member suggested a match fielding former Middlesex players. The shop was asked to produce something for the Ladies to wear in the 150th year, and not just a tie for the men.
Negotiations are in full flow for a new tenancy agreement with the MCC.
Vinny Codrington made way for the second part of the evening, and Andrew Strauss entered to a standing ovation. He was presented with a framed scroll, 3 large bottles of vintage wine dated 2004 (the year of his Test debut), and a bench was being made detailing all his International matches which would sit in his garden. Alan Ashton, the President of the Seaxe Club, also gave a special award.
Andrew said he was taking time out to consider his future. He felt that his time had run, that the mental energy required to be captain of England was very draining, and that it was great to bow out after the game at Lord’s. It was an emotional time, and he did not feel he was in the right frame of mind to play in the last match against Lancashire (“If selected” said Fraser!). Andrew was comfortable with the fact that his last innings for Middlesex had been an unbeaten century.
Amongst other questions asked, he commented that his proudest achievement was changing the culture of the England dressing room, making team, unity, togetherness and practise central to it all. He felt his best innings was here at Lord’s against Australia, scoring 161, and his best decision was to put Australia into bat in Melbourne, where they were bowled out for 98 and England were 157 without loss in reply. He was not driven by personal statistics, it was about giving 100% to the team.
Finally, he was finally asked about county cricket. He thought the culture had changed dramatically in the last 15 years. Whereas players and sides used to cruise at times in his early days, it was much more professional, players were fitter, better motivated and very well coached. It is very competitive.
Andrew was thanked for his service to cricket and Middlesex to widespread and heartfelt applause, and Ian Lovett thanked him for giving up his evening to come to the forum. Ian finished by thanking the cricketers and coaching staff and Angus for the terrific season and huge improvement, and hoped that it would continue next year.
He finished by praising all of the office staff for the immense hard work they put into running the club, and thanking the members for all their support.