I’m sitting down the garden, shaded from the warm spring sun, looking out on the daffodils and listening to birdsong. This is my favourite time of year and has been ever since I started playing cricket. It’s the optimism of it, everything emerging from the winter with a summer of cricket ahead. The feeling never left me even when the press box rather than the dressing room became my natural habitat.
This coming season carried extra excitement for me. My first year as President of this wonderful club was a treasured experience. I got to reconnect with the game and the club, got to know the players and all the Middlesex staff, met supporters, travelled the country watching, and no disappointments during the season could dampen that. In any case there were some fantastic highs as well, including seeing Lord’s packed for T20 Blast games and an astonishing run chase at Taunton.
We had moved on from last year. Dawid has left, and will, I’m certain, do a brilliant job for Yorkshire, and we recruited Peter Handscomb from Victoria to captain in red-ball and 50-over cricket. All my information speaks of a fine communicator, an excellent player and a thoroughly good bloke. Then Eoin agreed to captain the Blast team, which is a massive boost for us. In my opinion, there has been no finer captain of any England team, and I know how keen he is to use his vast knowledge of how to construct a team to create over the next couple of years what we hope will be a legacy for the future. We were looking forward to pushing for promotion in the championship, more than achievable with the quality of players and coaching staff we have at our disposal.
Now of course it has all been pushed out of kilter. We have no idea when we shall see cricket this summer. The first two months are already out of the question and clearly, even though there could be a move to push the season into October, there will be compromises. We are all in limbo, and nothing will be any clearer for a few weeks yet.
At Middlesex though, we feel we have a duty of care not just to everyone involved with playing for or running the Club, but to those who take out membership or support us. Already, my own optimism for the forthcoming summer has dissipated and I feel a bit bereft, so I empathise totally with those who have similar feelings.
I don’t wish to sound twee about this, but Middlesex Cricket is a family. Our members buy into the Club which shows we are valued, and we value in return.There is a recognition throughout that we have a resource to help people who rely us. We are already ensuring that the website is a go-to place for information and that our social media channels are loaded with new and fun content. There is also an important phone number, the Middlesex office number, 0207 289 1300, which is manned on divert during all normal office hours. – we would urge anyone who feels lonely or in need of a conversation not to be shy about using it. If you know of someone who is reticent but needs support, then let us know. Our staff and players want to help. Phone calls can be a reciprocal thing.
We also want to find ways of keeping all our members and supporters engaged with the club, so those who have ideas or suggestions for this, please let us know. There is plenty that can be done to help see us through this.
But I have optimism too. Since September my daughter has been living in a city in South East China, and has seen the virus sweep through that country. The city shut down, shops and restaurants and parks closed 8 weeks ago. For most of this she has been on her own, conducting work online from her apartment, leaving it only to run on the deserted streets, checking out and in again, temperature taken, each time she left the building. But the city is starting to come to life again now. Measures are still in place and they will be wary of a second wave of infections. China is an authoritarian country I know but it shows there will be an end. We just need to be sensible and support one another. So, stay in your crease. There is no Spirit of the Virus: it’ll Mankad you without warning.
Stay safe. We are here if you need us.
Mike Selvey – President, Middlesex Cricket
MIDDLESEX OFFICE TELEPHONE NUMBER: 0207 289 1300