As most of you will know already, both manager Chris Adams and first team coach Ian Salisbury have been sacked this morning by the club.
Many have been calling for Adams’ head over the last few months (possibly more for some), but I still feel that it is a shock that it has happened now. However, results simply haven’t been good enough so far this season, so perhaps it is the right thing to do and the right time as well to try and turn around our fortunes before we are relegated back to Division Two of the County Championship.
Adams came to the club for the start of the 2009 season, taking over an ageing, underachieving squad who had just been relegated after failing to win a game under the leadership of Alan Butcher the previous campaign. It was always going to be a tough task to build a squad to get promoted back to the premier division and for the first two years of his reign we finished towards the summit of Division two. 2011 was without doubt Adams’ best in charge of the club, under the captaincy of Rory Hamilton-Brown he led us back to where we belong thanks to 4 wins out of the last 4 games in the Championship, and collecting our first silverware for 8 years in the CB40. It was a great achievement with a young, vibrant squad, and long gone were the days of the likes of past-its such as Shoaib Akhtar and Andrew Symonds wearing the feathers.
Everything was looking positive for Surrey for the first time in almost a decade and many tipped big things for them in the years ahead. The start back in Division one last year wasn’t easy, but was far from disastrous, and we were competitive from the off. However, the unthinkable happened in June, a year ago tomorrow, when star player Tom Maynard was found dead. As a coach, how do you deal with that? It must have been by far the most difficult things for him to go through in his professional career, trying to get his talented squad through an unbelievably tough period, with on field matters understandably taking a back seat for a while.
Relegation looked on the cards from that point onwards and I don’t think there would have been many supporters who could complain after what the players had gone through. However, with Gareth Batty at the helm on the pitch, we managed to finish the season well and somehow keep ourselves in the top division. Yes, there may have been things that went on behind the scenes with Adams and Hamilton-Brown that we don’t know about, but you have to give him credit for what he managed to do in awful circumstances last year. I don’t think that achievement has been given the recognition that it deserved.
So after a good, young, talented squad had been built it was torn apart at the end of the 2012 season, with Hamilton-Brown understandably leaving for pastures new. A rebuilding job was needed, and what better way than bringing the most successful captain in test history to captain the side. Other decisions were certainly questionable, most notably the signing of Gary Keedy and the release of Chris Jordan and Matt Spriegel, but experience was needed and wanted by Adams.
The start of this season wasn’t bad, drawing to Somerset and Sussex, games in which we had chances to force home a victory but didn’t. We probably should have won at Lord’s for the first time in a long time and we looked a side difficult to beat. However, draws don’t get you anything in this game really, just an extra 3 points, and after losing two in a row against Durham and Notts it wasn’t looking quite so rosy as we languished in the bottom two. Was it a coincidence that our first loss was the first game Smith missed with injury? Well, I certainly think that was a factor, but if we use that excuse then we will get nowhere.
Poor performances in the YB40, including being decimated by Graham Napier at Chelmsford, and another 3 draws in the Championship didn’t help Adams’ cause, resulting in him losing his job after probably our best performance of the season in the LVCC against Sussex at Arundel.
So where do we go from here? Alec Stewart has been put in temporary charge alongside bowling coach Stuart Barnes, but with the club stating that a search for a long term successor will start soon, that makes me think that Stewart may not want the job full time. But, who would blame him? One of the most high profile positions on the county circuit, where you are expected to win most games due to the amount of money we have compared to others. Peter Moores has been tipped by some as well as former South Africa coach Gary Kirsten and Tom Moody. Graeme Smith is expected to come back to the club next year as a player, but also later this season in helping the team off the pitch, which may make Kirsten the favourite for the job.
So, it is an end of an era at Surrey CCC. Whether you agree with it or not, the results this season haven’t been good enough and a change was inevitable at some point. I don’t envy the man who replaces Adams, but hopefully he can do better than get 16 wins out of 72 games in charge.