Chairman's 2014 AGM Report
 DCB Ltd   –   December 2014 
In my fifth annual report to the Devon Cricket Board it is appropriate to reflect on our progress since 2009. This was an important year for Devon Cricket, when the Indoor Centre at Exeter University was opened and became the office base. The Board also became an incorporated business and, whilst there have been challenges, our progress has been very steady. We have clear strategic plans for the development of the game across all sectors, supported by a mixture of highly skilled professional staff and coaches, combined with a committed volunteer workforce.

Whilst on the subject of committed volunteers, in 2014 Ted Ashman decided to retire. After 30 years service to Schools and Youth Cricket, it is important that we acknowledge his massive contribution to cricket in Devon. Ted has undertaken many roles for cricket in Devon but I am sure his greatest legacy will be as manager of the County’s Under 10,and 11s. Ted instilled a sense of pride in all the players who had been picked for the County for the first time. Whilst results were important, standards of behaviour and ‘the spirit of the game’ was the very core of Ted’s principles, which gave the young cricketers the perfect grounding in the values cricket espouses.

Our cricket had some fine achievements. I was delighted to attend the Cricketer of the Year Awards and witness Steven George being named the Disability Cricketer of the Year. One of Ted’s protégés, Heather Knight, established herself firmly as England’s Vice Captain; Jody Dibble was awarded her first one day England cap.; Cate O’Keefe and Ali Kelly were selected for the England Development Programme; North Devon's Craig Overton was deservedly selected for the Lions. Our professional cricketers continued their successful careers at Somerset and Nottingham and more recently James Burke has moved to Surrey. This indicates the strength of our work in developing cricketers. This continues with Ben Green being selected for the England Development Programme and Ollie Sale, Sam Wyatt-Haynes and Dominic Bess attending the Somerset Academy.

I was delighted to see the Devon County side win the Unicorn trophy, beating Oxford by seven runs at Wormsley. Even more encouraging was the fact that ten of the twelve players had played county age group cricket. Our congratulations go to their captain, Josh Bess, and the players. The County Women’s team did very well to maintain their status in Division 2, fielding a young side that bodes well for the future.

The age group squads had some notable successes and there were many fine individual contributions in all our age groups, particularly with Tom Lammonby being selected, a year young, for the West of England at the Bunbury Festival. Sidmouth won the Premier League at a canter and the Senior Cup, whilst Exmouth made good progress in the National T20 competition. Another notable achievement was Andy Forward and Steve Lavis passing their Level 3 umpires' exams

As reported last year the Board and Organisations within Devon cricket continue to develop and change. The single brand ‘Devon Cricket’ continues to unify all of our organisations under one umbrella. Relationships continue to improve and, not without some teething problems, the Youth Association is now fully formed with Youth Leagues, Districts and County age Groups all sitting within one organisation.

Much of the above paints a positive picture at the elite end of our game. We do, however, face a number of challenges. In the junior leagues and in some of the lower divisions we are losing players. More games are being conceded and we are unable to convert vibrant club juniors into participating adult cricketers. All team sports are experiencing similar difficulties in retaining players and with this comes the probability of reduced Sport England funding. All of cricket should be mindful of the fact that without a stable adult playing population cricket could realistically lose its pre-eminence as our principal summer game. A lot of lateral thinking and flexibility will be needed to reverse the trend.

I am pleased to report that our Leagues have already grasped the nettle and responded to some of the questions raised in the National Playing Survey. There will be less travelling in certain divisions and the prospect of more conducive finish times. These will, I hope, encourage more players to carry on playing and help persuade younger player to make the transition into adult teams. It may well be that we will need to go further and be more radical in the opportunities and types of cricket we offer, if we are going reverse the trend of the continually diminishing number of players, teams and clubs.

As I reported last year we said goodbye to Phil Atwell and Andy Davies, I am pleased to welcome Susannah Maxa as our Non Executive Director and Mark Overton has taken over as chair of the North Devon Development group. Dave Bayliss took on a new role as chair of the newly formed Youth Association and we are pleased to welcome Chris Pearson who took over as chair of the West Devon Development Group.

More recently Nigel Ashplant has stood down as Chair of our East Devon Development Group. Nigel has made a strong contribution to our debates; he has always been measured with an independence of thought, whilst maintaining a very supportive approach to his fellow Board members and the Directors.

I was privileged this year to elected as a Director of the ECB, the Board and directors determined that there may be occasions when the additional responsibilities may impact on my work in Devon. With this in mind I was delighted that they appointed Martin Webb as Vice Chair of Devon Cricket. We are very fortunate to have someone with Martin’s level of knowledge and expertise who is willing to take on the additional responsibilities. The financial position of the Board has improved and our particular appreciation is due to Jon Sparkes and Matt Theedom for their hard work in resolving what was a difficult situation.

Finally this year's handbook was, in my view, our best ever and our real appreciation to Conrad Sutcliffe, Nigel Ashplant and the many contributors is well warranted.

Jim Wood


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