Mutiny In The Valleys

Glamorgan appear to be reading from the Yorkshire book of county fall-outs. Richard Thomas investigates

GLAMORGAN fans should probably not have been so surprised at the turmoil that gripped the county in November and set in motion a winter of criticism and departures.With glorious hindsight there were clues to what was to come after another mediocre season. Glamorgan failed completely in one-day cricket, then missed out on County Championship promotion.

But no one quite expected the resignation of three former England players in 48 hours: Jamie Dalrymple, stripped of the captaincy and replaced by the South African Alviro Petersen; Matthew Maynard, the director of cricket, who said his position was untenable after Colin Metson, the former county wicketkeeper, was brought in as an overall managing director of coaching; and the president, Peter Walker, who called the treatment of Dalrymple and Maynard “reprehensible”. That Dalrymple, Maynard and Metson declined to comment beyond their initial statements indicates just how deep the fall-out runs.

The chairman, Paul Russell, and committee have form in causing dramatic personnel change. Two years ago the long-serving duo of Mike Fatkin, then CEO, and Len Smith, groundsman, made undignified exits less than 12 months before Glamorgan brought the Ashes to Wales.

In the increasingly commercial world of county cricket Russell does not tend to suffer perceived fools gladly. He said after the Fatkin-Smith exits that Glamorgan was a “dysfunctional family” and he was a businessman who had to take objective and dispassionate decisions in the interests of the club.

Immediately after they failed to beat Derbyshire on the last day of the Championship season in September, Maynard said he and Dalrymple had been blanked by a committee member. It was a moment of silence that said much.

Minutes later Maynard all but signed his own suicide note by saying that, if Dalrymple was not captain in the 2011 season, he would not be director of cricket.

But it seems that while Alan Hamer, the chief executive, announced a review of the year following the end-of-season lunch, which Russell notably failed to attend, there was already a feeling in the boardroom that they did not want Dalrymple as their captain. Hamer said in the wake of the three resignations that the club had not been happy with Dalrymple’s attitude and performance on and off the field.

“The captain is the face of the club on and off the field,” said Hamer. “We didn’t believe Jamie was the right person to project the profile of the club off the field. That’s all I really want to say.”

A planned shake-up turned to chaos and a public relations disaster. The way Glamorgan went about replacing Dalrymple was, at best, clumsy. Russell, Hamer and Metson all travelled to Dubai, where South Africa were playing Pakistan, to sign Petersen as captain and overseas player without Maynard’s knowledge.

Maynard felt he was left no choice but to resign after that, not least as it emerged that Metson was coming in above him (Glamorgan say they are looking for a “world-class” coach to work under Metson). Dalrymple followed, saying he had no respect for the chairman. Talk about hanging your dirty whites out in public. And on the same day as Dalrymple’s resignation as a player, with one year left on his contract, Walker also quit the club.

The resignations prompted Hamer to send a 2,000-word open letter to members trying to explain and defend the county’s decision to bring in Petersen. It hinged on the club’s failure and, in particular, their desperately poor one-day form. Indeed Hamer said the changes would have been made even if Glamorgan had gained promotion in the Championship. “No other county has won fewer one-day matches than Glamorgan during the past three seasons, yet during this time the club has recruited a number of players from other counties and our playing budget has steadily increased year-on-year,” he wrote.

And it is commercial gain which, of course, is at the heart of Russell’s tactics. He delivered the Ashes to Cardiff and a 15,000-seat ground and now wants a return on his not inconsiderable personal investment. That is not unreasonable. What is unreasonable to many is his ruthless modus operandi. But he is unremorseful: “Over the last three years we have been the least successful county cricket club and we had to do something about it.”

He said that during the T20 Cup last season the signing of the Australian quick bowler Shaun Tait attracted 9,200 to Glamorgan’s opening home game. But that form tailed off so dramatically that crowds sank to 1,000. “That is unacceptable and something had to be done,” he says. “For me to stand back and to watch this happen would have been irresponsible.”

He says the signing of Petersen and appointment of Metson were not necessarily dictated by him. “I am not an ayatollah. I am elected by the committee and nothing was done without their approval.”

One of the more controversial moves set in motion by the recruitment of Petersen, who Russell claimed was one of the best one-day players in the world despite not being in the South Africa side, was that of the Australian batsman Mark Cosgrove – the club’s main batting performer in 2010 with more than 2,000 runs in all cricket, whom Maynard and Dalrymple had wanted back next season.

In retrospect the failure to re-sign him immediately after the end of the season should have been another clue of what was to come, especially as other players, including Maynard’s son Tom, were offered contract extensions.

The fall-out from the events saw a band of unhappy Glamorgan members try to force an EGM and a vote of no confidence in the chairman but they failed to get the 300 signatories needed from a membership of 2,500 and will have no choice but to wait until next season to see if Petersen and Metson can win the doubters over.

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