Friday, 22 July 2011

A second exodus?

It seems a shame to have to bring this up after such an accomplished win this afternoon, but it has been reported in the media that 3 of Gloucestershire's most experienced (and best) players are in contractual limbo. Chris Taylor revealed in an interview with BBC Gloucestershire that he has yet to be given any indication as to whether he will be offered a new contract when his present one runs out at the end of the season. It is believed that the Sperm donor and O'Mish are in the same situation.

Taylor explained that the reason for the lack of negotiations is to do with the ongoing ground redevelopment, or planned redevelopment, as no actual work is currently being carried out. "We've got the ground development going on", states Taylor, "and until those things are sorted out I don't think any contracts are being sorted out."

Ah, the ground redevelopment. We meet again.

It seems like a bizarre way for this story to come out. Clearly Taylor is frustrated by the lack of clarity (and respect) being shown to him regarding his future and felt that he wanted to speak out. It's not a great way for dirty laundry to be aired. Not that this is Chris Taylor's fault. If he genuinely hasn't been told what is happening to his future then this is a disgrace. The man has been a Gloucestershire player for 10 years and has scored over 12,000 runs for us. He's a former county captain.

If it is true about Lewis and Marshall then this is a very serious situation. Gloucestershire fans might have been willing to watch one exodus last year, to watch another one, at the end of a promising season, for the sake of a single one day international each year and a block of flats would be too much.

Needless to say there is nothing yet posted on the Gloucestershire website in response to this story. However, the Bristol Evening Post have run the story. Kaiser Tom Richardson is quoted as saying:

"What we have told all the players is that it will be difficult to close on any contract until September.
"We have a major ground development scheme going on and that goes to planning permission in September and governs how much we can set aside for our cricket budget.
"There are a number of players we want to close with and who we are actively discussing things with, but that is as far as we can go for now."

Whilst we fully understand the precarious nature of the clubs finances and the need for ground redevelopment, this latest development merely demonstrates again how poorly thought through the plans are. Sure, redevelop the ground, but do it in a way that does not have such a dramatic impact upon the cricket. I'm sure that all Gloucestershire fans have been delighted as we have over the progress of the team this season, and in particular the really positive impact that the youngsters have had. But would these kids have had the same effect if they had not been able to slide into a team alongside the likes of Taylor, Lewis and Marshall who have all been involved in international set-ups to some extent or another?

Kaiser Tom has already revealed that other counties have already been in contact regarding talking to Taylor, Marshall and, in particular, Lewis. It would seem that the only hope Gloucestershire have of holding on to these players is through their loyalty to the club. Fortunately all 3 are coming towards the end of their careers and it is to be hoped that they are enjoying the challenge of bringing through the next generation of Gloucestershire cricketers. However, I don't think any one of us would begrudge any of them seeking one final shot with a bigger county.

From what Kaiser Tom has said, it is quite possible that other counties will have offered their terms long before Gloucestershire are even able to begin thinking about new contracts. This would be absurd. If you were in Chris Taylor's position and another county offers you a deal for next season now, you would be almost forced to accept it if you want security as Gloucestershire will have no idea what their cricket budget will be until the autumn. Ludicrous.

Whilst we hope that the policy of investing in youth continues into the future, we'd hate to see these core, experienced players cast away and the teams development stunted because of the inability to pay experienced players. Whilst we can appreciate that it might be hard to offer contracts to all 3 of these players, it's to be hoped that at least 2 of them can be kept on board.

Like we have written elsewhere on this blog, we understand the difficult financial situation Gloucestershire find themselves in. We just don't agree with the proposed way of getting out of this mess. At the core of Gloucestershire cricket club is the cricket. Invest in this, not some ridiculous dream ground with 20,000 seats and a block of flats.

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