Middlesex set for Radlett move

PUBLISHED: 21:00 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

CRICKET: MIDDLESEX are to move their administrative and training headquarters to Radlett in a stunning £1 million project that could see stars such as Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah become familiar faces at Cobden Hill next year. Radlett, celebrating their

CRICKET: MIDDLESEX are to move their administrative and training headquarters to Radlett in a stunning £1 million project that could see stars such as Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah become familiar faces at Cobden Hill next year.

Radlett, celebrating their 125th anniversary this year, agreed in principle at a members' meeting last Friday to help Middlesex conclude their long residency at Lord's. The next stage in the planning process is a presentation to Aldenham Parish Council on October 5.

Tony Johnson, Radlett's chairman, Dave Holden, cricket chairman, and Vinny Codrington, Middlesex chief executive, told a packed meeting in the pavilion that, subject to detail and planning permission from Hertsmere and Aldenham, building extensions and new facilities could be in place by early next season.

Codrington explained that Middlesex would continue to play at Lord's, but the lack of facilities for the professional staff there was affecting their ability to recruit and retain players.

Nets were not permanently accessible, there were no permanent lockers and the coach Angus Fraser did not even have an office in the cramped administrative building.

He said that the obvious alternatives of Uxbridge and Southgate, both championship home venues, had been ruled out because of their multisport status and the problems of decision-making. "The set-up at Radlett is excellent," he said. "It's a 'real' cricket club. As you drive in, everything about the place is cricket."

The plan is for Middlesex to become tenants at Radlett, sharing costs and helping raise development funding.

Johnson told the members that the club executive had insisted throughout the discussions that the Radlett CC ethos, brand and club would be maintained and enhanced through this relationship.

"This is a unique opportunity for us, and I cannot commend enough to you the positive outcomes that this project will bring to the club," he said.

A long-term Radlett player, Charles Randall, said: "The presentation at the meeting was very impressive. Financially it made a lot of sense as year after year the club does little more than break even, and the cedar wood pavilion needs a lot of money spending on it.

"Everyone seemed very excited about the project and it is wonderfully prestigious for Hertfordshire cricket. I think the area will gain a lot. There were concerns at the meeting that Radlett might lose some club spirit, but I think Middlesex are very aware of the grass-roots aspect. We have to be careful with how we proceed, as we do not want to become some sort of super-club. I'm sure the committee want the council and local community to be right behind us as they progress with Middlesex."

Drawings by Radlett member and architect Roy Millard are to be submitted for local authority approval. The proposed pavilion changes involve a sympathetic extension eastwards to accommodate Middlesex offices and players' area. New match dressing rooms are to be build above the existing ones, with a facility incorporated for the county's physiotherapist. The old tractor shed is to be converted into a fitness suite, and the cricket square is to be widened with new strips for turf nets. The cost is estimated at £1 million of less.

Cobden Hill has been used extensively by Middlesex for second-team matches over the past couple of seasons, earning praise for the quality of the pitch and ground. The headquarters link-up is bound to fuel speculation that Hertfordshire will be hosting first class championship cricket for the first time within the next few years.

For a couple of weeks in the summer of 2012 Lord's will lose cricket to Olympics archery. Already an increasing international commitment has reduced availability of the famous ground, forcing Middlesex to depend more on club venues. Two Radlett all-rounders are on the Middlesex playing staff - Gareth Berg and the youthful Kabir Toor, who made his first-team debut on Sept 13.

Radlett run five league teams on Saturdays in the Home Counties Premier League and Hertfordshire pyramid. They field two sides in the Chess Valley League on Sundays and a women's team in the Southern League. The youth system for boys and girls extends to about 200 players.

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