Feb 9 2010
Tim Tremlett’s office is next door to the players’ dining room and has an excellent view of the ground. But this year there are some fundamental changes to what Hampshire’s Cricket Secretary will see on a match day when he looks up from his work. Not only will the new stands be in use, but for the first time since Hampshire moved to The Rose Bowl Tim’s son Chris will not be part of the squad.
In some ways this will be something of a relief. “If Chris was bowling or batting here I would always get very nervous watching, pacing up and down much to the amusement of the girls in the ticket office” Tim told me. “Obviously I stayed out of the way because I wasn’t involved directly but I was always keen to see how he was doing. Most parents get a little bit anxious – they obviously want their children to do well and progress.”
Chris’s progression as a cricketer is something Tim is clearly very proud of. “From a very, very early age – say as a three year old – Chris had very good hand-eye co-ordination, so there was always a good chance that he was going to get involved in sport. My father played Test cricket and my mother was a very good sportswoman and they always encouraged the family to participate in as many sports as possible. Of my other two boys, Alastair was a very good horseman and Ben was good at lots of sports but didn’t have the natural talent Chris did from a very early age.
“But it wasn’t until Chris was about fourteen or fifteen that he thought he would like to play cricket professionally. His height has been an advantage in many respects and at Richard Taunton College he became a good basketball and volleyball player in addition to his cricket and golf. Chris even qualified for the Under 16 National Youth Club Finals at pool. When he first started cricket I was Hampshire coach so it was hard to spend as much time with him as I would have wanted so I tended to put him towards other coaches who I thought could look after him and make sure he was able to fulfil his potential.
“He joined the Academy when Mark Garaway was in charge and then Tony Middleton took over so he’s always had good coaches looking after him. If I have not had a direct input then I would always let the coaches know if I thought that there was something that required correcting technically especially with his bowling. It would be up to them whether they thought it appropriate to address it at that particular time.
Chris bowls for Hampshire
“Chris made the difficult decision to leave Hampshire following discussions with the coaches at the end of last season. I think he felt that after ten years if he didn’t go now then he’d never move away and now was a time for a new challenge. He’s at a stage where he’s reasonably happy with his game but feels he can still kick on; he has a good cricketing brain and has after all played for England. One of the drawbacks he’s had were the injuries, which have had a lot to do with his height. He works extremely hard on his fitness so it has always been frustrating and unfortunate that he picks them up. But if he gets an injury free run he knows what he is capable of. He’s apprehensive at moving but certainly excited and looking forward to working with a Surrey team who can only go up.”
So what exactly does Tim do in his role as Cricket Secretary? “I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved with the Club as a player, coach and am now engaged as an administrator in the day to day running of cricket operations at The Rose Bowl which means liaising not only with Giles White, First XI Manager and the other coaches but also the other departments in the business to ensure that cricket runs as smoothly as possible. Certainly in my playing days the captain and the coach were the two who held a lot of responsibility and then the captain had a lot more power than he does now. However, the game has moved on and the business has evolved since moving from Northlands Road to The Rose Bowl.
“Staging International cricket, concerts, golf as well as having a successful banqueting and conferencing division is big business and the organisation has changed dramatically since the committee based system that was in place at Northlands Road. From a cricketing team perspective we now have a manager, a position which evolved first with Paul Terry and now with Giles White. The manager is given a budget by the Board and is responsible for signing the players he wants to bring in and ultimately the team’s performance.
“Giles sits down with his team of coaches to discuss which areas need strengthening on a regular basis. I sit on the main Board as a non-executive Director and will pass comment on players and their development at the appropriate time.
“The First Class Domestic schedule has seen a reduction in the number of competitions this summer and with that we have seen changes to the registration rules which can appear complicated to our membership and supporters. Counties are allowed one overseas player in the LV= County Championship and ECB 40 Over League and two overseas players in the Friends Provident t20. Neil McKenzie’s signed as a Kolpak player so he’ll be available all the time whilst Ajantha Mendis is due to arrive in May to play in the LV=CC and FP t20 whilst Shahid Afridi will only play Twenty20.
“With ever increasing demands on international players and unscheduled tours cropping up unexpectedly additional overseas players might still come in, but between each signing you have to have a 10 day gap, which has also changed, because last year it was 21 days. It’s difficult to keep up with it all! Each year something changes, whether it’s the UK Border Agency’s governing laws on visas and immigration or the registration rules for the different ECB competitions.
Hampshire's Cricket Secretary
“I get involved not only with First and Second XI fixtures but any fixture at the Rose Bowl whether it is a Kwik Cricket Festival or an International, making sure that all the necessary arrangements are in place. The First XI have plenty of travelling to do this season with trips to Durham, Lancashire and Yorkshire as well Aberdeen and it is important that the management and players are happy with the arrangements. Giles and the senior players meet on a regular basis to ensure things run as smoothly as possible off the pitch as well as on it.
“Then there’s the pre-season. The squad leaves on 7th March for their third successive trip to Cape Town. The season starts very early this year. If weather permits, our first practice match is scheduled for 29th March. The first LV= County Championship game is on 9th April, so if the team didn’t go away there would be a chance they wouldn’t get any outdoor practice in at all.
“With significant changes to the competition structure the matches are presented in blocks. There is a lot of LV=CC cricket at the start of the season, with some ECB 40 Over League cricket, followed by the FP t20 in a big block starting in early June before reverting back to the Championship and 40 Over League. I think the players prefer it that way. What is difficult for them is when there are Twenty20 and Championship matches on consecutive days. No matter how professional the players are it doesn’t make sense to play two different types of the game so close together because it leaves no time for preparation.
"There is a delicate balance to be achieved but things have not changed that much over the years. We used to play one day matches in the middle of three or four day matches, and it wasn’t the right way to go about things then. The game has developed in this country in many respects but in others it has not. Players need to be allowed to prepare properly to play to their best potential. With two divisions today’s matches are competitive with high intensity but over the past couple of years I believe that the quality has dropped off. There are not as many world class overseas players playing on a regular basis and the best qualified England players are not available”.
Although Tim has been a permanent fixture at Hampshire for as long as most supporters can remember, he still relishes his role. “I’ve been involved with the club a long time and things have changed a lot, but I’d like to think that we’re going in the right direction.” He told me. “We’ve got an exciting team on the field and committed staff off the field and with the new development a stadium that is truly going to be world class and the envy of many. It’s never dull at The Rose Bowl – every day is different and throws up a new challenge”.