Let’s look at the positives…

By Guy Lavender, CEO Somerset County Cricket Club

For the wrong reasons, cricket has dominated the national media lately. England’s disappointing World Cup performance and the Kevin Pietersen saga have all been front page news. There is also the oft-held assertion among non-cricket supporters that the domestic game is in crisis with falling attendances and reduced participation.

For those of us involved in this great game however, I can assure you that the reality is much more positive.

Somerset is a case in point. We regularly challenge for silverware and in 2010 we frustratingly finished second in all three of the major competitions.

While trophies have been elusive, the standard and quality of cricket has been superb thanks to the development of local talent over the years – Marcus Trescothick, Jos Buttler and Craig Kieswetter, to name just three – and the introduction of top international players such as Justin Langer, Andy Caddick, Kieron Pollard, Vernon Philander and Nick Compton. There is also great optimism in 2015 with international stars such as Chris Gayle and Corey Anderson joining our already fine squad.

This exciting cricket means our membership and attendances continue to grow. We have the third highest membership of any professional cricket club and regularly sell out our T20 fixtures. A huge passion for cricket clearly remains across the region.

These strong attendances have allowed us to develop arguably the best non-test match ground in the country. This year will see the completion of the Somerset Pavilion, a £4m project which will provide a superb new range of facilities and bring the ground up to the standard to host one-day international cricket.

This hard work has paid off and the reward is a T20 between England and South Africa in 2017. We will also be one of the venues for the 2019 ICC Men’s World Cup. All this will enable us to expand and generate profits which can be invested back into the future of our club.

On the recreational front, cricket remains enormously popular with a thriving club network plus a major increase in the women’s game across the region. You only have to attend the junior coaching sessions to understand that cricket is alive and kicking in the Westcountry.

We all recognise the challenges ahead both locally and regionally but if you join us on a match day I am sure you will leave with a much more positive impression as to the future of cricket.