As you reach Christmas on any given year, you inevitably reflect on the past twelve months and wonder what the coming year will bring. As I write this, it is with a mixture of emotions - I can't pretend that I am sad to see the back of 2017 but approach 2018 with genuine optimism and excitement.
There are so many events in 2017 that I have already written so much about: the desolation of relegation, the pitch at Somerset, the arrow that landed at the Oval and the declaration against Essex. There are not many fond memories in that list but there is much motivation for 2017 for a club fuelled by a sense of some injustice but perhaps more a feeling that we could, should have done much, much better. We'll come back stronger for that experience. We'll see a different Middlesex in 2018.
There have been some great cricket successes this year. Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones made their England bows with great success. Both have worked incredibly hard to earn their chance through weight of performance rather than mere potential and this has clearly set them up well for the demands of the International game. It was also great to see Steven Finn force his way back into the Ashes squad, before injury cruelly curtailed his involvement and Eoin Morgan go from strength to strength as England's white ball captain. We've also got four Young Lions this winter, with Jack Davies, Luke Hollman, Savin Perera and Ethan Bamber all representing England in the under 19 World Cup in New Zealand in the New Year. The future looks very bright for the club with young players such as these coming through.
Fortunately, our women's team succeeded where the men failed and staved off relegation this year. I am delighted that, this year, in conjunction with MCC, we appointed a Head of Women's Cricket for the first time. Danni Warren is already doing a great job in building a strong women's group and this will be a highly significant area in the future.
Off the field, the club's participation programmes have received a huge lift this year with the inception of our 'Home of Cricket' at Kidzania in the Westfield Shopping Centre. This initiative recreates Lord's Cricket Ground in an Indoor Stadium and will give many children the opportunity to play our great game for the first time. With 400,000 children each year entering Kidzania, this is a wonderful partnership that I hope many of you will have a chance to experience.
Strategies like Kidzania are vital for growing our great club. The 1st XI performances may have been disappointing this year but I am confident that the club is making huge strides forward in establishing itself at the forefront of the English game. The long-term is looking very rosy indeed.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at the club, can I wish all our members and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a successful and healthy New Year. We may have tested your resilience this year, but we can never doubt your loyalty to this great club.
With season's greetings
Richard Goatley, Chief Executive, Middlesex Cricket
IMPORTANT NOTICE - FESTIVE OPENING HOURS
Please be aware that the Middlesex Cricket office at Lord's Cricket Ground will close for the festive period at 5pm on Wednesday 20th December 2017 and will not re-open until 9am on Wednesday 3rd January 2018. Thank you.