'Essence of the club goes far beyond the cricket' - outgoing Norfolk chairman

Action from the Norfolk Festival of Cricket, against Cambridgeshire

The Norfolk Festival of Cricket at Manor Park - Credit: Tim Ferley

Mike Hanby has taken over from Richard Wright as chairman of Norfolk County Cricket Club who has served the county with great distinction over the last six years after succeeding Graham Littlewood as chairman in 2015.

Richard Wright, former Norfolk CCC chairman

Richard Wright - outgoing Norfolk CCC chairman - Credit: Richard Wright

Wright said: “To be the temporary custodian of an institution which was formed in 1827, was a founder member of the MCCA in 1895 and has a Festival dating back to 1881 soon made me understand the size of the task in hand.

“Largely woven around the Festival the essence of the club goes far beyond the cricket and is a significant date in the diary for old friends and former players to catch up and reminisce. It is unique in National Counties Cricket and drives our much envied and gratefully appreciated membership. Norfolk cricket is something of which to be proud and I have been delighted to represent the club home and away over the six years.

"However, times are changing with new drive and enthusiasm needed to take the enterprise forward, because enterprise is what the new National Counties Cricket Association (NCCA) entails. It will be about increased profile, sponsorship, live streaming of games, enhancement of facilities and excellence of play creating a pathway to first class cricket and hopefully beyond. I have been working with Mike Hanby for the last year to ensure that there is a smooth handover. He has an enormous respect and love of the game and your club could not be in better hands.”

Mike Hanby, Norfolk CCC chairman

Mike Hanby, new Norfolk CCC chairman - Credit: Tim Ferley

On his appointment at the AGM, Hanby said: "I hope to continue the excellent work and on behalf of everyone involved with Norfolk CCC I would like to take this opportunity to thank Richard for his hard work, commitment and the sheer passion he has put into the role. He leaves a very strong legacy with the county in good shape and I am pleased to say Richard will be staying involved. His wise counsel is something that I will certainly benefit from and Richard has helped to build a solid platform from which I hope we can develop further.”

Norfolk head coach Chris Brown added: “On behalf of the players, we would like to thank Richard for his excellent tenure as chairman over the last six years. He has set the foundations for the smooth transition from the Minor Counties to the NCCA to allow Mike Hanby to ease into his new role.”

Norfolk begin their campaign on Sunday with a home game against Lincolnshire at Manor Park in the NCCA one-day competition.

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Hanby has highlighted two key areas that he wants the county to continue to grow. These are the strong relationships which the club has with the Norfolk Cricket Board and Nottinghamshire CCC.

“The Board are instrumental in the promotion and development of youth cricket and through the pathway program we want to see as many youngsters as possible progressing through the youth section into the Lions and then onto the first team," he said. "The great work being carried out by Lewis Denmark and the NCB team under the stewardship of Keir Hounsome is vital to the future of Norfolk cricket.”

The strong relationship with Nottinghamshire will serve the county well over the coming years and a lot of this is down to Brown.

Hanby said: “It was good to meet Mick Newell the Director of Cricket at Notts and see his firm interest in making the partnership a big success. We were due to play a showcase game against Nottinghamshire last July but this fell victim to Covid. Hopefully the match will take place this year on July 20 at Manor Park. We are doing everything we can to get the game on to reward the loyalty of our members and the Norfolk public. Nottinghamshire should have some international players on view.”

It was encouraging to see three of Norfolk’s youth players take the field in the county's only games of 2020 against Nottinghamshire second XI last September. Two of them, Ben Panter and Ben Wilcox, are members of the Nottinghamshire academy having progressed from Norfolk’s Elite Player Programme (EPP). Wilcox made his debut for Nottinghamshire second XI against Durham on May 3 and Panter followed in the footsteps of his great uncle Derek Godfrey when he claimed the title of ‘Youngest Wicket Taker’ for Norfolk whilst making his debut against Nottinghamshire’s second XI last September last year at the tender age of 15.

Ashley Watson will again lead Norfolk in both formats and is keen to build on foundations laid in his first full season as skipper in 2019. Tom New has been retained as professional and will play an important part with his vast experience in helping to develop the younger players.

The championship campaign gets underway on July 11 with a trip to Cleethorpes to take on Lincolnshire. Norfolk are planning subject to government guidance for the festival to take place as normal and this will start with a derby against Suffolk on July 25.

Norfolk fixtures 2021

(11am unless stated)

NCCA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sun, Mon, Tue

July 11-13: Lincolnshire (at Cleethorpes)

July 25-27: Suffolk (Manor Park)

August 1-3: Staffs (Manor Park)

August 22-24: Cambs (Wisbech)

NCCA ONE DAY TROPHY

May 30: Lincs (Manor Park)

June 20: Herts (Bishops Stortford)

June 27: Suffolk (Manor Park)

July 4: Cambs (Peterborough)

Quarter-final July 18, semi-final August 8, final September 2 (reserve September 3)

SHOWCASE GAME

July 20: Nottinghamshire (Manor Park)