In a winter of change for Derbyshire Cricket Club on and off the field, the biggest off field change was announced on Wednesday with the news that Chairman Chris Grant was to step down after six years running the club.
Six years that will stand him in good stead in his new job, if he is successful in being elected to the ECB board next year.
The club that Grant leaves behind is barely recognisable from the one he took over in 2011 after serving just one year on the board: the days of financial uncertainty and instability are gone, having recorded an operating surplus for the last five years and a repeatis predicted when the accounts are published later this month. Coincidentally, it will be the sixth time on the spin…something many of the seventeen other counties would sell their stumps for.
Also the ground which used to be affectionately referred to as “The windswept Racecourse Ground”, (actually come to think of it I don’t think it was overly affectionate) is now a ground to be proud of, a ground which this season will be hosting the opening ceremony and semi-final of the ICC Women’s World Cup along with an Elton John concert. This is now the description of a ground with state of the art facilities for players, media and spectators, a ground which is no longer wind swept and is a pleasure to sit and watch cricket at.
Grant has also overseen a change in how the club is run, replacing the committee structure with a streamlined supervisory board, filled with people with specific skills capable of taking the club forward. Already on that board is the preferred successor to Grant, Ian Morgan OBE, whom the club hope will be ratified at the upcoming AGM in March.
The off-field change Grant has overseen has been a success, even the harshest of his critics, of which there are some, would have to admit this and they should be reminded that just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to do it. Those critics would however point towards the pitch for where Grant’s success has been limited.
Grant himself I am sure would describe the on-field success of his tenure as patchy at best. Grant would point to the club’s first trophy for 19 years, when they lifted The County Championship Division Two title in 2010 and thus won promotion to Division One for the first time since the first season of the two-tier Championship structure in 2000. However – as it was then – it was a one season stay and relegation back to the second tier after just one season.
Since then the club have failed to threaten to regain their first division status and have failed to compete consistently in either white ball tournament and are yet to reach the show piece T20 finals day, something which must wrangle with Grant as he moves on and if he does have any regrets I am sure this would be one of them.
Grant has not accepted this and has tried several different methods to try and bring on-field success, the latest of which has seen Derbyshire become the first side on the county circuit to appoint a specialist T20 coach, with John Wright coming on board for the 2017 season. Grant also leaves with a much strengthened playing squad to that which finished the 2016 season, along with a new coaching set up led by Derbyshire legend Kim Barnett.
Grant has not always been everyone’s cup of tea in his time at the 3aaa County Ground, however no one could argue that if it is Ian Morgan OBE who takes the reigns from him following the AGM, he will be taking over a club in a far better situation than when Grant did the same in 2011 and have a much easier job than Grant has had over the last six years.