Former Leicestershire chief executive David Smith will return to county cricket next week when he takes charge of Northamptonshire.
The former Warwickshire opening batsman has had 18 months out of the game since his sudden departure from Grace Road but he will start work at Wantage Road on January 3 having succeeded Mark Tagg who stepped down in October.
“I’m looking forward to being back involved in county cricket again,” Smith said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to help take the club to the next stage commercially and on the playing side.”
Smith’s priority is to help Northamptonshire’s head coach David Capel secure first division status in the County Championship after two near-misses last season and in 2009.
“The squad at Northamptonshire is a lot stronger than the one I inherited when I joined Leicestershire in 2008,” Smith said. “The side is in very good hands and David Capel has done a good job. I would like us to achieve Division One status in two or three years because I still think that the measure of a county is first division status, so promotion is important for us.”
Commercially Northamptonshire are better placed to generate non-cricket revenue than Leicestershire with a six-lane indoor school, which can be converted into an events centre, and floodlights.
“I was looking to get back involved in county cricket but it was important to join a stable club,” Smith said. “Northamptonshire have had two chief executives in 15 years and year-on-year they have been above the profit line.
“It’s also a more diversified business model in terms of being able to generate non-cricket income. There is a six-lane indoor school which can be dressed up for events and banquets, we’ve got floodlights and we staged an Elton John concert this year which was profitable for the club.
“I’ll be looking to do more in the future but probably not next year which will be a difficult one with the Olympics and the European Football Championships.”
One thing that has not changed while Smith has been out of county cricket is the continuing debate over what is the best structure for the domestic game.
The Morgan Report, which was supposed to focus on best business practice when it was set up, seems to have metamorphosed into another domestic review, including lots of old ideas that have been debated and rejected at some stage over the last 15 years.
“Some issues have not changed in the past 18 months including domestic structure and the best way forward,” Smith said. “I’ve not seen a copy of the Morgan Report but, from the coverage it has received in the media, it does not appear to address many of the issues.”