In a season like no other, working together has never more been more important for the first-class counties.
Opportunities to meet and work out how to overcome the hurdles ahead – with the domestic game having to face so many challenges, not least from the pandemic and franchise competitions – are invaluable.
The object of Presidents Day – hosted by Surrey’s David Pakeman – at the Kia Oval on Monday, the second day of the LV Insurance County Championship match against Essex, was to celebrate the tenacity of the first-class game and reinforce links between the clubs.
Among those present were Ian Lovett (ECB), David Acfield (Essex), Gerard Elias (Glamorgan), Roger Gibbons (Gloucestershire), Derek Taylor (Kent), Jack Birkenshaw (Leicestershire), Basharat Hassan (Nottinghamshire) and Sir Rod Aldridge (Sussex). Several others were unable to attend for the second such staging of the event.
“I think the pandemic has brought the counties together more closely than ever before,” said Pakeman. “It’s very rare to get such a gathering like this together and we’re delighted to be the hosts for it.
“The presidents aren’t the people who are responsible for the day to day running of the clubs but we’re the ambassadors for our counties. There’s a fascinating blend of people here and anything we can learn from each other can only benefit us for the challenges of the future.”
Few of those present could match the sheer breadth of experience of Birkenshaw, who played 420 first-class matches for Yorkshire, Leicestershire (principally) and Worcestershire plus five Tests for England. Once the off-spinner retired, he went on to umpire two Tests and five one-day internationals, returning to coach Leicestershire to two County Championship titles.
Nowadays he combines representing his county with scouting for the ECB.
He said: “It’s been great to come here to The Oval today and meet fellow presidents. Making county clubs work requires so many different skills, whether it’s experience of playing, running businesses, finance and so many other things.
“It’s been a very difficult period for the counties over the last couple of years and the more we can work together, the better it will be for our players and members.”