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It does seem strange to be writing this on the day that we should be starting our first game of the season at Merchant Taylors’ School, in what would be in normal circumstances a very big and important season for Middlesex…..and now, with no real indication of when the first ball will be bowled.

At this point it would be easy and perhaps natural to slip into a little trough of despair but I want to echo Mike Selvey’s sense of optimism about what lies ahead and also to reflect on challenges that we have faced in the past and how we came through those.

There has been much talk of WW1 and WW2 and I would just simply say that in spite of so much suffering, life and cricket carried on. Those among you with good memories may remember the London smog of 1952 which covered the capital for 5 days, made streets slippery to walk on, made our faces dirty as we walked home from school, had bus conductors walking in front of buses guiding the driver, and caused directly and indirectly the deaths of several thousand people.

This dreadful experience was followed by the Clean Air Act, and even more exciting, the visit in 1953 of the Australian Test side and England winning the Ashes for the first time since 1934 (those of you with Wisden have a look and remind yourself of some of the players).

Even more recently we had the infamous 3 day week brought in by the Government of the day in January 1974, which, whilst not a lockdown, did see the curtailment of work, reduction in electrical supply, its resultant impact on living in all forms, and the declaration of a State of Emergency …..but by March it was all over and in the cricket season India arrived for 3 Tests and 2 ODI’s and lost all of those matches. One particular match stands out - England scored 629 as Mike Denness scored 218 and Bishen Bedi took 6 for 226 off 64 overs. In reply India were bowled out for 42 with Chris Old taking 5 for 21 off 8 overs!

I use these examples to indicate that there is always something on the other side of a challenge, even as big as the one we are facing now!

At Middlesex Cricket we are planning for the future whilst caring for the present, so let's look at what we are doing now ---Gus, Stuart and other members of the backroom squad are in constant touch with the players ensuring that as young professional sportsmen and women, we are cognisant of what they need, physically, mentally and emotionally.

We are working very closely and positively with the ECB to try to ensure that the financial future of the Game from recreational to international level is secure and I want to emphasize that there is a great deal of collaboration throughout.

At Middlesex Cricket the staff are working from home and your Board is in very regular contact, including via video conferencing, which has led to some interesting images of individuals normally seen smartly dressed in suits!

So, let me return to Mike Selvey’s message about spring and a time of growth, a view that I share as I look at new growth in the garden and hear sounds of children playing nearby and see the sun shining and the grass in need of cutting.

We have all faced challenges in our lives in one form or another just like cricket and like the game we love, we are still here.

Please keep abreast of all that is going on through the Middlesex website or via our new weekly e-newsletters, which I hope you are finding enjoyable and a good source of information.

I want to stress that I am here to talk to any members about ANYTHING, should you wish to do so. If you have anything you want to chat about, any opinions you want to voice, or any suggestions you have, then please call the office number on 0207 289 1300. The office number is on divert and manned during normal office hours, so simply call, leave a message with our staff and you have my assurance that I will happily return your call should you wish to speak to me in person. Alternatively, by all means email me at [email protected] and I will answer your enquiry in person promptly.

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy, and perhaps keep before you the words of an ancient Persian writer, Rumi, words also used by 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, when leading his country out of civil war and abolishing slavery - “This too will pass“.

Regards to you all and thanks for being there.

Mike O’Farrell

Middlesex Cricket Chairman

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