Monday, 17 June 2013

Could football style sackings become commonplace in the county game?

Whilst football managers live with their job on the line almost constantly, county coaches generally have an easier go of things. Sure, there's the occasionally grumbling from the members and calls on the internet for them to go, but generally the world of county cricket is more long-term oriented and less prone to hyperbole.

Chris Adams then joins a short list of coaches to have been sacked mid-season. The fact that he left doesn't seem surprising, rather the timing is. Surrey had just managed a creditable draw against a good Sussex team, and they are just outside the relegation zone. Things haven't been good for a while at Surrey though and Alec Stewart will take over temporary charge.

Maybe the move will pay immediate dividends. The last county to sack their coach mid-season was Derbyshire. John Morris' contract was up at the end of the season in 2011, so he was released from his duties in May of that year, with Karl Krikken taking over.

Krikken lead the club in an upturn of fortunes, with promotion coming in 2012 from a core of young players developing together and a few choice imports. Even though it seems likely that Derbyshire will drop straight back down again

Maybe the difference between cricket and football that makes this kind of thing so rare is that cricket is far more likely to promote from within the club. There are generally very few out of work county head coaches around, so unless you pluck someone off another club's staff, the most likely person to replace a sacked county coach is his assistant. That makes waiting to the end of the season, when people are more likely to be out of contract, to find a permanent replacement seems wise.

It also seems odd to sack Chris Adams so soon into another cycle of rebuilding. His first strategy, of young and exciting players was abandoned after Tom Maynard's death, and players such as Hamilton-Brown, Jordan and Spriegel left the club. Now the club regularly field teams with six or seven players over thirty. In the final game of Adams' stint at the club the average age of the team was 29, whilst in a game against Essex in the YB40 it was an astounding 31.54, with six players in the team over 37.

Another coach who could be forgiven for feeling a bit nervous is Essex's Paul Grayson. Coaches don't pick up the sack for just doing badly, otherwise Leicestershire would go through several a year, they get it for underachieving. Grayson's Essex have been underachieving for several years, culminating in their abysmal 20 all out against Lancashire.

The team has occasional moments of brilliance, a 7-for for Graham Napier in a one day game, Masters' 8-10 in 2011, the odd brilliant Ravi Bopara century, but they don't seem to hold together as a team on a regular basis. The selection often seems muddled as well, and it's well time for a fresh start.

So will county cricket get more knee-jerk? Probably not. The mideseason sackings of both Morris and Adams were prompted by persistent underachieving, and if Grayson goes soon few would argue against the decision

With some exceptions, county cricket is generally a calmer, more measured game than Premier League football, and coupled with the lack of money to pay-off coaches in the middle of contracts, expect the mid-season sacking to remain a rare thing.

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