FOR the last 12 years I have been at the heart of Gloucestershire cricket, holding positions on the county club management board, moving on to become deputy chairman then chairman and latterly president.

As county chairman I was a member of the board of the ECB, the game’s governing body.

So I feel I am in a good position to look back and assess the progress made in the club, county and national game.

England first. Ashes have been won and lost while one-day success has been hard to find. Does the expensively-assembled Team England deliver? Does the vast entourage supporting England enhance our performance?

My view is no. Yes, central contracts are a good thing. Yes, we need an experienced coaching team, but there are far too many involved who get in the way of cricket. Playing any sport should be uncomplicated.

County cricket happily survives with a full championship programme. This is a situation that will always need defending. Three groups of six, each team playing just ten games is a proposition waiting in the wings. Gloucestershire, Sussex and Yorkshire led the battle to defeat this last time it was proposed. If it had gone through it would have meant the end of the Cheltenham festival.

This stunning event means Gloucestershire still plays 11 days of cricket away from headquarters. Neighbours Worcestershire and Somerset play none. Many lovely venues have gone and the game is poorer for it. Too much cricket is played on bland pitches that do not encourage stroke players or attacking bowlers and we see far too many draws – more than half the county games played end that way.

I would dismiss the posse of pitch inspectors. They arrive with their clip boards and all county groundsmen are in awe of them. If a wicket is poor someone from HQ can be quickly on the scene. Boring pitches are producing boring matches. There is no fourth-day turn for spin bowlers, therefore we have not got any. We need more lively wickets, especially at Bristol.

Tim Brain (Cheltenham), Bill Griffin (Duntisbourne Leer), Roger Gibbons (Stroud) are names not all of you will know, but in terms of Gloucestershire cricket they are crucial.

All are hard working members of the management board of the county club. Our constitution now allows for any member to be directly elected to the board and the presence on it of those three proves that the whole county can be represented at board level and it must stay that way.

As chairman I wanted to break down the 'Ivory Tower' syndrome. Too often the board remained in the committee room, seeming aloof and unapproachable. I vowed as chairman I would walk round the ground every day I was at cricket, making myself available to talk to every spectator. I view it as an essential duty and an enjoyable one too.

Our county cricket has stuttered and there have been too many bad days. The problem has been that until the last four years we did not have a flow of young cricketers coming into our team. Tom Stayt, Will Rudge, Jackson Thompson, David Brown and Rob Woodman showed promise but did not fulfil it. Now we have Chris Dent, Will Tavare, Gareth Roderick, Craig Miles, the Taylor brothers, David Payne and Liam Norwell. Add Cameron Herring as well as James Fuller and Benny Howell and you have a group of cricketers who can all get better.

Locally Lechlade and Frocester are flying the flag for club cricket winning their respective leagues. All praise to Ollie Jones in becoming the Frocester player of the year, but the main man in local cricket is chief executive Steve Silk who heads the lively team that make up the county recreational board.

Silk’s appointment has taken us forward by leaps and bounds. The short list drawn up in my front room was the starting point for this process.

Throughout these years I have been president of the CDCA, an honour I cherish. Working with Phil Carter, John King and now Gerald Wilkinson has been a delight. These men and their committee make the Cotswold Association a beacon for the rest of the county to follow. Our game is in good heart.