I came down to Taunton at the end of January to attend the Club’s Annual General Meeting. For me the NSPCC’s equivalent occasion – our Annual Council Meeting – which is traditionally held in October, represents my most important speech of the year. I must convey a strong sense of forward direction and account for past performance whilst also demonstrating I’m in tune with the hundreds of our supporters who show up to listen and express their views. Somerset’s Chief Executive Andrew Cornish doubtless felt something similar that night.
One thing is for sure, when it comes to leadership you can’t please all the people all of the time. That was evident when one Somerset member called for dogs to be banned from the County Ground. There was a little support for her in the room but quite a hostile reaction too. When Somerset legend Brian Rose made reference to his Labrador in his opening remarks as our new President, it was clear that this isn’t going to be a change happening anytime soon.
I was surprised that there were no player-related questions on the night. We still await news of a second T20 overseas signing. Earlier in the evening, Director of Cricket Andy Hurry had put me right on my suggestion of Daniel Sams. He has played nothing like enough international cricket. I had no idea the restrictions on qualification criteria for these slots were so tight – you can’t simply sign a young prospect.
I thought Malcolm Derry did a brilliant job illuminating the Club’s finances and the care taken on the Committee to use resource wisely, whilst always prioritising the player budget. Some of the comparisons he drew with the indebted nature of some other counties were scary and illustrated why so many are so desperate to take handouts from the ECB on any terms. It was good to hear that the floodlights will not become a financial burden – indeed they open up the opportunity for generating considerably more commercial income on site during what I hope will be some wonderful weekend evenings of entertainment this summer. Malcolm is stepping down as Honorary Treasurer and it’s essential we find someone with his talent and commitment to succeed him in that role.
Finally for now, I’ve been applying careful thought to the diary so I can balance watching Somerset with my extensive work commitments. My next day off is Friday 5 April, when Wanless Jr and I will be looking forward to hosting the Kent Committee visitors to Taunton. We live in Kent and I’m afraid Jr’s allegiance is to his county of birth and residence. When I have previously attended matches at Canterbury representing Somerset, they have rather enjoyed his support for Kent and, of course, Kent ALWAYS win. Let’s put that right when we play them at proper cricket in April.