Surrey have sacked their Director of Cricket Chris Adams and his assistant Ian Salisbury in a move that was surprising only for its timing - midway through the season and shortly before the start of the Friends Life t20.
Speaking to Surrey TV, chief executive Richard Gould said, “We’re halfway through the season and we’re still seeking our first Championship win. We have particular ambitions for the season and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to make changes and then hopefully deliver on some of those ambitions in the time we have left available.”
Alec Stewart will take charge for the next few months, with bowling coach Stuart Barnes taking on an “enhanced role.”
Gould added, “We’re very fortunate to have Alec Stewart available to take over for the next few months and we’ll be using the time that gives us to get the very best result for Surrey CCC.
“There’s no rush in terms of looking for a successor. We want the very best person so we need to be able to attract the very best calibre of person and successfully select. We’re not going to set ourselves any time deadline for that.”
Adams was appointed to lead Surrey’s rejuvenation following his first-class retirement at the end of 2008 and following the sacking of Alan Butcher, but his time at the helm has been marred by poor results, controversial signings, bad luck, and tragedy.
After a poor 2009 season, Adams started to make his presence felt by signing 22 year-old Rory Hamilton-Brown from his old county Sussex to lead the side. He also secured the signatures of, at that time, former England fast-bowler Chris Tremlett from Hampshire and highly-rated wicket-keeper Steven Davies from Worcestershire. However, results did not improve and Surrey almost finished last in the County Championship’s second division.
2011 started off on a similar note - although looking back it is perhaps relevant that that was the year that Gould took over as chief executive of the club - but finished in a blaze of success. Adams’ signing of Indian spinner Pragyan Ojha proved inspired as Surrey came from nowhere to earn promotion, while Hamilton-Brown led a young, and apparently fearless, side to victory in the Clydesdale Bank 40. Adams’ work appeared to be bearing fruit.
However, last year was when it all began to fall apart. After a promising start, the club and the whole of county cricket were rocked by the death of talented batsman Tom Maynard in an incident on the London rail network. His best friend and captain, Hamilton-Brown, was given indefinite compassionate leave, with Gareth Batty taking over as captain.
Batty’s appointment was to prove a shrewd move by Adams and the club fought off relegation, but the handling of the retirement of stalwart Mark Ramprakash was perhaps not one of his finest hours.
This season was preceded by a raft of new signings - most of them ageing county cricket veterans in a move that was widely questioned at the time. The idea was to give a young and traumatised squad - beset by allegations of heavy drinking and indiscipline - someone to lean on, but the feeling persisted that it was the wrong move and taken too far by a coach running out of ideas. That is how it has turned out, with a couple of those signed struggling to make the first-team and, at times, when selected, keeping out younger and arguably better players.
Ultimately, though, despite the vast resources at his disposal to enable the new signings, Adams has been dogged by rotten luck for large parts of his tenure. 2011 looked like being the first of many good years, but instead preceded tragedy, while Graeme Smith’s spell in charge was over almost before it had begun earlier this year due to injury.
He made many good decisions during his time in charge - Hamilton-Brown’s appointment could have proved to be one of county cricket’s greatest masterstrokes, while Tremlett’s signing was soon followed by an England recall - but, like most, he also made mistakes.
The emotional strain of the past 12 months has been high for all at the club and, looking back, perhaps Adams should have followed Hamilton-Brown out at the end of last season to allow it a fresh start. With a different turn of events, his time in charge may have turned out to be one of the best in Surrey’s history - it certainly had the makings of it at the end of 2011 - but events conspired against him and history will judge his time there unfavourably.
Tomorrow’s Fixtures: (start times in brackets, BST)
Group B, YB40, Hampshire v Derbyshire at Southampton (1640)
Sohail Tanvir will make his maiden appearance in the competition after a successful Championship outing against Gloucestershire. He is joined in the squad by fellow left-arm seamer Chris Wood.
Hampshire squad: Michael Carberry, James Vince, Jimmy Adams (captain), Neil McKenzie, Liam Dawson, Sean Ervine, Adam Wheater, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Sohail Tanvir, Chris Wood, Danny Briggs, David Griffiths.
Derbyshire are hit by a “minor injury” to all-rounder Alex Hughes, with Dan Redfern replacing him in a 14-man squad that also includes the likes of left-arm spinner Tom Knight and young off-spinner Peter Burgoyne.
Derbyshire squad: Chesney Hughes, Wes Durston, Paul Borrington, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wayne Madsen (captain), Richard Johnson, David Wainwright, Peter Burgoyne, Tim Groenewald, Mark Tunrer, Mark Footitt, Jonathan Clare, Dan Redfern, Tom Knight.
Group B, YB40, Lancashire v Scotland at Old Trafford (1540)
Lancashire will look to build on their successful week at Chelmsford as they host the Satires and have named a 14-man squad that again includes fit-again all-rounder Tom Smith.
Lancashire squad: Stephen Moore, Ashwell Prince, Steven Croft, Simon Katich, Tom Smith, Jordan Clark, Gareth Cross, Glen Chapple (captain), Kabir Ali, Stephen Parry, Simon Kerrigan, Wayne White, Luke Procter, Karl Brown.
Scotland have included Neil Carter at the expense of Gordon Drummond as they continue their search for their first win of the competition.
Scotland squad: Tom Latham, Freddie Coleman, Richie Berrington, Preston Mommsen (captain), Calum MacLeod, Moneeb Iqbal, Matthew Cross, Neil Carter, Ruaidhri Smith, Gordon Goudie, Calvin Burnett, Majid Haq, Michael Leask.
Weather Forecast: Tomorrow will be relatively warm as humidity levels increase. However, there will still be plenty of cloud and the occasional heavy shower. Temperatures will peak at between 20 and 23 degrees Celsius.
County Cricket News In Brief:
Gloucestershire are hoping to have a replacement spin bowler signed, probably on loan, in time for the Friends Life t20, which starts later this month according to chief executive Tom Richardson. Regular spinners Ed Young and Jack Taylor are both unavailable for the foreseeable future. Young has a wrist injury, while Taylor has been suspended after being tested for a suspect bowling action.
Northamptonshire have given influential seamer Trent Copeland until the 5th July to decide whether he wants to return to Wantage Road later this season. Copeland was forced to return to Australia earlier this month for treatment on a long-standing injury.
David Miller will not be returning to Yorkshire as their overseas player in this year’s Friends Life t20. The 24 year-old has decided that he needs time off before South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka and following the IPL and ICC Champions Trophy.