Tuesday, June 28th, 2022


Club Chair Fanos Hira was joined by whole Executive Team that deal with operational matters and Paul Pridgeon who heads the Cricket Steering Group which make all substantive cricketing decisions.

Fanos opened the meeting with a short overview 

Vitality Blast Performance

We felt at the start of the year that we had all the levers in place, and we have failed to deliver on that, and we need to understand why.

We’ve now got two games to go, and we are languishing at the foot of the table. That is clearly not good enough.

We are all dreadfully disappointed with our performance in white-ball cricket. It has been a very poor campaign, and I personally find it very perplexing and baffling.

We do need to understand why we haven’t performed, and we do need to have a critical and robust review of what went wrong, and that will happen.

But there is still lots and lots to play for. In red ball, we are there or thereabouts, and we are not losing many players to the Hundred, so we should perform well in the Royal London Cup.

The feedback after our first full house in four or five years against Birmingham Bears was disheartening and displeasing and I’m glad that policy was changed very quickly on the night.

Lessons have been learnt throughout the season, and the Club needs to communicate a little bit better with you all.

We need to signal things more in advance where possible to properly explain the decisions that have been made.

Entry to the Ground

There are always compromises and consequences for decisions that are taken.

Regarding the turnstiles on the Cathedral side of the ground, we’ve had a lot of questions as to why can’t we come in on that side of the ground.

It is absolutely clear that’s you CAN come through that way but, to do that, you have to create a walkway.

If you create a walkway, you no longer can have 100 car parking spaces over there, you will have 20.

You can do but there is compromise and consequence for everything we do.

If you were to try and do that, a walkway and 100 car parking spaces, if someone gets hit the Board would personally be liable if someone gets hit and we didn’t reduce those spaces.

Social Media Comments

Comment increases when performances aren’t great on the pitch. Everything goes up a few notches and gets a bit more personal and the criticism increases and it is absolutely justified, deserved and warranted.

That is sport. It is an emotional thing, full of passion, and full of care, and long may that continue. Criticise and be constructive or not.

But when criticism crosses that boundary and becomes threatening to staff and becomes so damaging and slanderous, we will absolutely take action and will report matters to the police and authorities.

We have a zero tolerance for any level of discrimination or abuse.


On Bag Searches

Bag searches are a really important counter terrorism measure that we need to have in place. The UK terrorism threat still stands at severe and we won’t compromise on that.

It means depending on crowd size as to whether that is just a sample of bags rather than when we have a very large crowd and the necessity to check everybody.

Operational Matchday Issues

With T20, the first match against Birmingham Bears, it did have problems with the regulation enforced about not being able to bring food in.

It was something that was already in the ground regulations that had not been enforced previously.

Some people are saying that it was brought in to make people buy food inside the ground but that categorically was not in our mind regarding this decision.

This is around safety, the size of bags that people bring in. When we have a full house crowd, that becomes a much bigger problem with the space they take up as well as the security risk around them.

We reviewed that policy straight away, reassessed the risk to safety and looked at what could be done to ease those issues and make those changes straight away and communicated that and adopted that for the very next match.

Other issues were around the length of queues, particularly around the Birmingham Bears game.

Anti-social behaviour

In terms of anti-social crowd behaviour, it is a sport wide problem and across cricket and all counties.

There are more issues of poor behaviour than before.

The view of the ECB safety and security officer is that after the pandemic there are an element of spectators who come to matches with a sense of entitlement, of ‘I will behave how I like.’

We disagree, this is a family environment and we want to uphold those values. 

Some of it alcohol fuelled behaviour but also increasingly instances of illegal drugs being more of a problem.


On Queuing at Food & Beverage Kiosks

We employ a company who have timed how long queues are and given us some really good pointers as to how we can shorten them.

Since the Birmingham Bears game, the average queueing time has been four minutes. Ten minutes queuing for food and drink is acceptable and we are below that.


On car parking at grass area behind the Basil D’Oliveira Stand

The unfortunate thing is we are not allowed to use this area anymore.

We had a Sports Ground Safety Authority visit last year and in their report they put that they didn’t want cars driving through people.

This would mean if a car parked on that area they would have to get here before the ground is open and they wouldn’t be allowed to leave until we closed.

On ground entry at the Cathedral side of the ground 

With the Cathedral car park, we would have to cordon off a walkway to enable people to come in that way which again would take car parking away.

If the stewards do see people who are struggling to walk, they do let them through. The steward will walk to reception, get the spectators tickets and take it back to them.


Cricket Steering Group Chair, Paul Pridgeon reported on cricket performance:

Vitality Blast

The T20 campaign has been an absolute disaster, although we didn’t have Dwayne Bravo for the first four games after the IPL and Colin Munro for the opening match while Moeen Ali needed to take a week off and rest and get ready for the series against the Netherlands.

Those first four games were away against four of the strongest sides in the competition. Imagine what that did to the mentality and the wherewithal of the playing group and the coaches because they know they are light going into those four games. 

We didn’t perhaps perform as well in those games as we might have done.

Having said that, the performances since then have been absolutely appalling and way below the standard any of us, whether we be staff or members, expect.

We know that, and that will be addressed.

Red Ball Performance

In the first half of the season we played some really good cricket in red ball.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact we are up there and competing in the Championship and there is still the Royal London Cup to come. There is a lot to play for.

The players and the coaching staff know we have underachieved so far and there is a real desire and passion to put that right – and we have to put that right.

If we do not perform better in the Championship and the Royal London cup, then it may be a case of some heads might have to roll, and one of them might be mine.

New Academy Graduates

Over the last couple of days we have agreed to sign three young players from our Academy who are going to join us on rookie contracts.

They are talented individuals and they are going to be very good players in the future. We are really confident about that.

If we weren’t confident about it, we wouldn’t have signed then, simple as that. Oli Cox, Henry Cullen and Rehaan Edavalath. They are all going to be very good players in the future.

Injury Updates

Josh Tongue is back bowling. We thought six weeks ago that he would probably have to undergo surgery.

He has undertaken a series of injections which has made a real difference to him. He is back bowling and bowling pain free.

Josh Dell is fit again after breaking a finger at Kidderminster fielding, and overall we seem to have a clean bill of health at the moment.

Future Planning

There is a lot of planning going on, and myself, Alex, Alan, Kevin and Elliot we sit down on a regular basis and look at people we want to talk to.

I have spoken to two players in the last week, which we think will improve our squad, and I’m speaking to another couple next week.

We are planning on going forward. We are not sitting on our backsides.”


The floor was then opened to further questions, including:

Why has there been no tribute for former groundsman Tim Packwood?

Sarah Gluyas: It has not been forgotten. We are still working on that so watch this space to have something published soon. He is a reluctant hero and doesn’t like the limelight so there is a little persuading to what we can do for him that he is comfortable with.”

Was Moeen Ali right as T20 captain as he cannot commit to the full 14 games?

Paul Pridgeon: It’s a very good and valid point. For me, the big thing is with captaincy is you need to be on hand and watch a lot of the cricket going on around you.

The problem with Mo, because of his other commitments, is that he dropped in and dropped out.

But lets not lose sight of the fact he captained us when we won the T20 and were runners-up the following year.

During those two seasons, his captaincy was absolutely outstanding. What you do notice, probably not as much this year, is when Mo has come back and captained the side, the lift he gives to the rest of the team is tangible.

There are pros and cons and I see both sides of it.

In an ideal world, you want a captain who is available all the way through and possibly playing in all formats.

Brett D’Oliveira this year was reluctant to take on the T20 captaincy and the Championship side which I also understand because of the workload.

I don’t think it helps when you’ve had three captains in Mo, Ben Cox and Colin Munro. It is something we are aware of.

There are a lot of rumours about Moeen Ali and Ed Barnard going. Is there anything you can tell us about those contracts?

Fanos Hira: We re-signed seven of the eight players out of contract before the start of this season and there is an inevitability that you are not always going to get 100 per cent so we’ve just got to wait and see but we will be very sorry to see either of those players go.

Photographs of young players on the screens in the Graeme Hick Pavilion?

Fanos Hira: I thought there was something on the web to explain who the players were rather than on the screen.

We can print whatever is on the web and put the photos on the screens. We will do that. It will be done by tomorrow.

Has the club any plans, a three year or five years, to improve our playing capacity and has the club  any plans to improve facilities for members and spectators?

Fanos Hira: In terms  of the ground, when I joined the board we were £6 million in debt, we were paying the VAT late and technically were insolvent.

We have reduced the debt to £4 million and gone from the lowest playing budget to the top six or seven so I don’t think we have compromised in investing in the team.

The feedback on the ground being spruced up by Helen and her team is positive and it is looking better but we do need to improve.

I think we have outgrown it to an extent and I do think we need to look at Phase Three and how we fund it.

We’ve put it on hold  while trying to survive through the pandemic but we’ve got to get on now and improve the facilities quite dramatically.

Paul Pridgeon: One of the things we are looking at proactively is trying to strengthen the squad. We are aware of the possibility of losing a couple of players.

We have identified targets we would want to replace players with if needs be.

We have also identified targets that, we feel, in the long term will strengthen us as a playing unit in red ball and white ball.

The last two years white ball has been an issue for us in scoring runs quickly enough. We have lacked power hitters and we are very aware there is the need to improve the playing staff.

We have always been a club that produce our own players.

We have got the T20 flag flying for a Championship match?

Fanos Hira: I agree. We will get onto that, give us a day, and we will get it changed.

Will Ham, Egg and Chips and Jacket Potatoes and Daily Specials back on the menu?

David Hoskins:  For the near future, no, and the reason for that is we have two kitchens in this ground and currently three chefs.

I just want to say we’ve got some very good casual catering people here. Sixty to seventy per cent of our current work force is agency staff.

1.3 million people have not returned to hospitality since the pandemic so to get trained, qualified, reliable staff is actually quite difficult.

We only have three chefs at the moment to service the whole ground. In previous years, going back to 2019, we had seven chefs.

To get qualified people to commit is difficult, so the answer to your question is ‘no’. Maybe in the future, but the workforce will certainly have to increase.

Fanos Hira: The other thing I would add on is that historically there were three kitchens, part of Phase Three will have an additional kitchens and hope that can service you better as members.

If we were a football club, the coach would have gone a long way ago. How are we going to instil confidence into the players immediately?

Paul Pridgeon: I know a lot of people are disappointed and the T20 campaign has been a disaster.

One thing I would say is ‘thank God, we are not a football club’ because what happens at a football club is when things do not work out, the first head on the block is that of the manager.

When in fact, the first head on the block should be the players.

I know a lot of people are unhappy with coaches. I see how hard all of the coaching staff work and I also see what they put into this club.

Also I have to say at the moment a lot of the blame has to go on the players performances.

That is far more important than chopping and changing – and if you chopped and changed now, with still two competitions to play for, that for me is the worse thing you could possibly do.

Minimum targets for rest of the season?

Paul Pridgeon: In terms of minimum performances in the Royal London Cup, it has to be to qualify. But like everyone else, we all want to win things and get to the final.

In terms of the County Championship, we are going to try flat out to get the right results to get promotion.

That is one of the reasons we’ve signed Muhammed Hasnain because we’ve got a little bit more pace than what we’ve got.

The feeling is, with a bit of extra pace, we have the opportunity to get where we want to in the Championship and that should help us to do that.

There will be three or four sides at the top end of those competitions striving for the same things. It is not a gimme, but we are trying.

Update on the condition of the overflow carpark (hardstanding)

Planning permission has been granted for resurfacing and works will be undertaken later this year.