A History of Somerset Cricket Board
The Somerset Cricket Board (SCB) was created in 1994 when the ECB required each of the thirty nine English counties to form Cricket Boards’ as part of a reorganisation process for English and Welsh cricket at both professional and recreational levels.
Prior to this, much of the amateur game in our county was administered by a combination of Somerset Cricket Association and Somerset Schools, with stalwarts such as Tony Corner (Chairman) and Paul Wickham (Youth Development) running the Association. Whilst several of these gentlemen have sadly passed away, some are still in post twenty years on, such as John Davey (SCB Treasurer) and Chris Twort (Secretary Somerset Schools.)
Regrettably shortly after the first few months of SCB’s emergence, Tony Corner was taken seriously ill, and as a result his replacement Chairman Tony Davies was given the task of negotiating with the County Cricket Club with a view to forming the newly labelled ‘Somerset County Cricket Board.’
It was quickly agreed that a group of Directors should be appointed representing both the professional and recreational side of the game in the county. As a result of these negotiations members of both SCB and SCCC were appointed to oversee affairs, with Richard Parsons at their helm. This group later included Giles Clarke, who would eventually move on to become ECB Chairman.
Appointment of a Cricket Development Officer
One of the Board’s first tasks was to appoint a Cricket Development Officer who would become a pivotal figure in the new organisation. We were fortunate to be able to select Andrew Moulding, who over the next fifteen years proved to be a most excellent choice. Supported capably by Chairman Tony Davies in the early years, Andrew assembled a professional staff to work alongside him to provide support, advice and funding for all aspects of local cricket, and these core functions are broadly similar two decades on – helping clubs and leagues, constructing youth programmes, holding training courses for coaches, groundsmen and umpires, and offering advice on funding for facility improvement at two hundred local affiliated clubs.
A few years on Somerset Schools Cricket Association agreed to hand over the responsibility for the running of all County youth teams to the Board. This fitted in with ECB’s new Player Pathway strategy, and over the next fifteen years boys’ age group coaching was overseen by a succession of SCCC coaches – Peter Robinson, Julian Wyatt and Peter Sanderson – up until 2011. More recently SCB has appointed their own full time Head Coach in the form of Greg Kennis, which underlines our determination to continue producing a steady stream of future young professionals for Somerset via a programme that is highly regarded (and indeed envied) by other much wealthier counties. Boys’ teams range from 10- 17 year olds, with the older age groups now playing two and three day matches in preparation for future opportunities in the County Second team and beyond. The coaching link with the SCCC professional coaching staff is very strong.
Growing the game
As part of the overall expansion, Women and Girls cricket has grown rapidly since the turn of the century, and the SCB field County teams at age groups from 12 year olds to 19, with additional elite programmes for the best girls, closely aligned with the recently established regional Western Storm pathway.
There has been a similar growth in the County Disability cricket programme, as well as the advent of men’s Over 50’s and 60’s teams. All of these groups now enjoy a comprehensive coaching and match structure in their own right, such that the total of SCB fixtures is now in excess of two hundred a season.
In 2013 under the joint stewardship of Chairman Andy Curtis and Cricket Development Manager Andy Fairbairn the Board has become a limited liability company, handling a vastly increased business turnover. It continues to offer all of the aforementioned activities but on an even bigger scale, as well as administering the successful All Stars and Chance to Shine programmes taking cricket to dozens of state schools around the county.
SCB now operates with ten full time staff based in the Centre of Excellence at the Cooper Associates County Ground. Our non Executive Board of Directors include several highly experienced commercial personnel plus SCCC’s CEO Gordon Hollins, former Club captain Roy Kerslake, and Chairman Charles Clark – a mix which in itself underlines a continuing fruitful partnership between the professional and recreational sides of the game – thereby meeting the prime objective first envisaged by the ECB twenty years ago.