K A Taylor (Chairman), J R Heatley, R T Simpson, J W Baddiley
The 1977 season proved to be a great disappointment after the marked improvement achieved in 1975 and 1976. At the start of the season there seemed nothing to suggest that we were in for a bad time – on the contrary, all the indications were that the confidence built up during the two previous years would be maintained.
Although beaten in the first two Benson and Hedges games, we were not discredited and the Player League matches against Middlesex and Hampshire were won.
Add to that a satisfactory display in the opening Schweppes Championship match and there did not seem to be any real cause for concern. However, we missed chances in the field, and accordingly lost, in the Sunday match against Somerset and our failure to score 126 to win against Worcester at Newark was frankly inexcusable. From then on form and performance deteriorated and confidence eroded to such an extent that only on rare occasions afterwards did the side look sure of itself.
The loss through injury of Barry Stead, with his character and experience, was a big blow and the back injury suffered by Trevor Tunnicliffe prevented him from fulfilling the all-rounder role as he had done so efficiently during the previous season. To add to our worries, it was difficult to arrive at a settled side as there were so many injuries throughout the season. These were contributory factors but the failure of many of the main line batsmen was the root of the problem and this is so difficult to understand. From a position of having six batsmen with 1000 runs in 1975 and five in 1976 only two achieved this target in 1977. We do believe that this sort of form reflects anything approaching the true ability of our batsmen. We encourage them to play strokes and to attack but for some reason a lot of the batting was irresponsible and did not bear any relationship to the job in hand. Very seldom was the side given the good start which is so necessary to build up confidence in later batsmen. Much more application must be shown next season if we are able to see runs coming more consistently from the experienced players and an improvement from the younger ones.
On a number of occasions, particularly early on, the bowlers played us into a winning position, which was then squandered by bad batting. The established bowlers performed creditably, particularly the spinners on some very flat wickets at Trent Bridge, but the younger bowlers remain an unknown quantity. Our greatest need is for a fast bowler.
The fielding did not reach the high standards of the previous two season and too many catches were dropped.
After careful deliberation the Committee decided to appoint Clive Rice as Club Captain for next season. It was felt that an extrovert type leadership was essential to restore confidence in the side.
Happily Mike Smedley has accepted the post of Vice-Captain with all the considerable work that goes with the job during the winter months. Mike has captained the side through two of the best seasons the Club has experienced for some time. He has carried out the policy of introducing young players in County Cricket and given them help and encouragement. He has always coped with his problems in a quiet and efficient manner and never passed the buck. His willingness to undertake the vice-captaincy is typical of his dignified approach.
For many years Members clamoured for the inclusion of Nottingham-born players and the Committee was heavily criticised because there was only one such player on the staff. Since then the policy of recruiting local players has been pursued and there are now nine on the staff. One of these is an England player, another was chosen as the best uncapped wicketkeeper in the country at 18 years of age, and there are several more with the potential to reach the top. Additionally in three years, a side was produced with a mixture of youth and experience that played entertaining and highly competitive cricket.
We understand there is much criticism of the performances last season but it seems strange in view the opinions expressed previously and the form displayed in 1975 and 1976 that faith should fade so quickly.
Although the majority view has been that we should develop our own young players thoughts have been expressed that overseas players should be signed, despite the fact that the TCCB is taking steps to limit the flow of overseas players to this country. In any event we can, of course, play only two of them at any one time. Alternatively some members favour signing relatively elderly players not required by other counties.
The present Committee, whilst acknowledging that a lot of hard work is required in searching for and developing young players to a high standard, nevertheless propose to continue with the present policy. It is being acknowledged more and more in the game that if England is going to stand on its own feet as a cricketing country a lot more encouragement will have to be given to young players. Your Committee is conscious that this includes more realistic rewards by way of salaries and are taking steps to rectify this situation. In addition, we would suggest that cheers not jeers are the best way to help youngsters while they are learning their trade. It takes some years to bring young cricketers to maturity and they, together with their experienced colleagues, need all the encouragement they can get.
Finally, congratulations to Ron Allsopp on the quality of the wickets he prepared last summer. One international batsmen expressed the view that one Sunday wicket was the best he had played. Bob White and Dilip Doshi are not quite so enthusiastic!!
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