Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

A Christmas Message from our Chair, Fanos Hira

Dear Members, Sponsors and Supporters,

As the end of 2022 draws near as we reflect on the last year, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the whole Club, to thank you for all your support and interest this year. 

On the pitch at the elite level, getting promoted or competing to win trophies is our primary aim, and we didn’t get what we had hoped for. Despite this, there were plentiful collective and individual successes for us as Club this year.

My personal highlights include;

1)The continuing development of Women’s Cricket. Our Women’s Rapids team won their T20 Cup competition in May and were runners-up in West Midlands Regional Cup with some impressive personal milestones. Georgie Macey was the second leading run scorer in the ECB County Cup, and Flora Bertwistle the leading wicket-taker. Clare Boycott remarkably played in her 200th game for Worcestershire in the season. Sarah Glenn and Emily Arlott were selected for England’s senior squads, and Charis Pavely and Ellie Anderson were selected in the England U19s. We are delighted that the fast-paced development of Central Sparks, in partnership with our colleagues, Warwickshire, is continuing to inspire women and girls to play professional cricket in the West Midlands and beyond.

2) England Disability Game/T20 Vitality Blast Double Header – this was a first in cricket and the whole day was a chance to see New Road at its best. In the morning, 150 SEND school children were playing on the outfield and met the England physical disability team – they were in awe of them, illustrating to us all the power of sport – to inspire people and demonstrate how cricket can be inclusive and a game for all. It was so pleasing that Worcestershire County Cricket Club was at the heart of this day, which was down to the brilliant work of Craig Oakley and his team at Worcestershire Cricket Board.

3) Our Academy continues to thrive, going unbeaten to win the ECB County U18 County Championship and reaching the quarter of the ECB 50-over cup. They also pleasingly got to the final of the Graham Williamson Trophy Final held here at New Road – another first – ending up as runners-up to a strong Birmingham league side Smethwick – with Kaddy Ali leading the way. The future looks very bright, and it is pleasing that three Academy players have joined our professional staff for the coming season in Henry Cullen, Olly Cox and Rehaan Edavalath – all prospects. We wish them all well.

4) Further improving opportunities for all. We held Open Trials at New Road in September, with more than 100 people participating, with further open sessions planned for men and women in the coming months. We were also the first county to play against the South Asian Cricket Academy (‘SACA’), a brilliant initiative led by Dr Tom Brown. It is at these games that our coaching team observed the considerable talents of Kashif Ali, who became the first SACA graduate to sign for a first class county when he signed a professional contract with us, and has already made a great early impression. 

5) Our work in the community/helping others. It’s been great for us all to learn about the humbling work of the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust, which became our third charity partner in 2022, following on from Acorns in 2020 and St Richards Hospice in 2021. We’ve raised much-needed funds and hopefully increased their profile for what is an incredible charity. We also hosted a Six-a-Side tournament for Martin Watts (expertly organised by Paul Pridgeon and John Elliott). Martin was a long-standing member of staff who had to retire due to ill health, and we were so pleased with the generosity of donations to assist him.

Sport is about making memories, and it was great to see some exceptional individual performances, too, all of which bode well for the coming season. Brett D’Oliveira scoring a century in his first game as Club captain against Leicestershire, Azhar Ali’s Double Century – 225* – straight off the field to greet children after batting all day – what a great memory that was captured in a brilliant photo, Joe Leach with career best figures of 6/44, Gareth Roderick’s amazingly resilient second half of the season, seeing Josh Tongue playing again was a delight, Jack Haynes getting England Lions call ups, Dillon Pennington in the wickets, and the further development of plentiful young talent in our squad. In addition, the winter signings of Adam Hose, Matthew Waite and with Michael Bracewell for the Vitality Blast will add proven quality to an already exciting and youthful men’s squad. 

Since the close of last season, we have made changes and have established a new senior men’s coaching group, and we are confident they will drive on-field progress. Alan Richardson, Kadeer Ali and new hire Richard Jones are extremely competent and care – two of the key qualities needed to drive our talented players forward in the years ahead. I look forward to members getting to see this first-hand in the coming seasons. We will hire a Director of Cricket when we have identified the right long-term person for our Club – the search is ongoing.

There is much to look forward to for everyone at our Club, and we are as hungry and determined as ever to bring success whilst making New Road and cricket across Worcestershire a welcome place for all.

We do hope you can enjoy the festive season together with your families, and we wish all our Members, supporters, partners, and friends the very best wishes for the New Year!

Fanos Hira