K.A. Taylor (Chairman), J.W. Baddiley, R.T. Simpson, J.R. Heatley
With the early return of Garry Sobers after a winter’s rest, spirits were high at the start of the season. Certainly there seemed every reason to anticipate some degree of success, particularly in one or other of the limited-overs competitions.
Performances generally in the opening matches suggested that such confidence was not misplaced. Lancashire was defeated, against the clock, in the County Championship, progress was made in the Quarter Finals of the Benson and Hedges competition, and for a while all our early optimism was justified.
Unfortunately, things began to go wrong. Following a heavy defeat at Worcester in the Benson and Hedges Competition, much of that early confidence progressively drained away and some dismal performances towards the end of the season were the inevitable result.
Another fact that contributed to this unhappy situation was the absence of Garry Sobers on the Test Match duty.
Some of the young players failed to reproduce their form of 1972, maybe due to some sort of reaction following the success achieved in that year, when everything came off for them. It must be remembered that success does not come easily in the first class game – a great deal of hard work, courage, character and ability are essential ingredients in the recipe.
We believe that our young players have these qualities and will win through. Derek Randall, for instance, must surely play an important part in the future with his lively and aggressive approach both when batting and in the field. Philip Wilkinson, too, made excellent progress, bowling extremely well under pressure and altogether playing a key role in his first season at top level. There can be no doubt that these 22-year old players encourage the belief that first class performers can still be found within the County boundary.
Turning to the 2nd XI, here again the high standard set in 1972 proved elusive in 1973. Although the team finished half-way in the table consolation was gained from their excellent performance in reaching the semi-final of the Under-25 Competition.
The Colts XI under John Clay, acquitted themselves well, finishing in fourth position in the Amateur League.
In retrospect it must be admitted that much of the cricket played by the County side was undisciplined and in, in the best sense of the word, unprofessional. The Gillette Cup match at Lord’s provided a fair illustration of this point when, batting first on a good wicket, three wickets were surrendered for a meagre 12 runs in what can only be described as a slipshod manner. Although a reasonable total was finally reached and the team fought back in spirited fashion the early failures proved conclusive and the match was lost. There can be no doubt that 1973 brought much disappointment to Members, Committee and Players alike but it would be wrong to dwell on this and we must look to the future.
We are convinced that the youngsters at school and club level represent the most fruitful source of recruitment and Frank Woodhead will be making every effort to find and encourage those with the necessary potential. In addition the Committee has decided to appoint a man with experience and qualities of leadership to direct the efforts of the current players and provide the guidance so necessary to the newcomers in their efforts to bridge the gap betweens second and first class cricket.