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26th November 2009

A day with Durham CCC’s…Cricket Secretary

Ellen Johnson

“My role is pretty demanding all year round but without doubt my busiest months are March and September, just before the season starts and just after its ended. 

“From September following instruction from the Chief Executive I put together new ‘schedules’ for the playing staff.  When a player joins the Club he signs an official ECB/PCA Contract but each year the player’s position is reviewed and his ‘schedule’  which includes his salary and benefits plus length of contract is updated…and with the team dotted all over the world during the winter months that can be quite a task!  Not only are the professional squad required to sign up to the year’s revised options also the Academy, which currently stands at fifteen, need to sign contracts and receive their welcome packs.

“If players are going to play abroad I schedule their flights, for example, we just finalised Scott Borthwick’s flight over to New Zealand where he will play for Canterbury CC, where Paul Wiseman is a coach.  I’ll also sort out any visa requirements and let them know any additional information that might be of use, driving regulations are normally included in this!

“I’m also involved in sorting out the kit so before everyone shoots off I try and check that I have the right sizes for each player on record so that when we order the new stock everyone should have the right stuff when they arrive back in the north east prior to the start of the season.

“We all wait anxiously for the fixtures to come out in November as it gives us the schedule to work around as we plan for the coming season.  Also, much of my job is about arranging travel and accommodation for the team so until I get the fixtures my hands are tied. 

“I send the fixtures to an agent once we have them; he then sources hotels for the first team according to the budget I set him.  We get an outline fixture list from the ECB for the Second Eleven fixtures then Jon Lewis and I start approaching outgrounds to see if they can host any fixtures for us.  

“Now that we’ve had the 2010 regulations through from ECB I’ve been able to order the balls for the season and also the helmets, which have the Durham crest on the front. 

“I look after Geoff Cook’s diary in the winter, he attends so many events and functions it’s almost a full time job! I keep in contact with the Marketing team so that we know which events Geoff is going to attend and which events players go to – more importantly I need to keep an eye on the schedule of the Championship trophy, it has a better social life than all of us.  

“Other winter tasks include doing the organising and administration for the ‘Schools of Excellence’ trials which happen early on in the New Year.  A big challenge is organising the pre season tour, we arrange it ourselves as it saves us paying an agent a fee – I sit down with Geoff once he has decided where he wants to take the team and then arrange all flights, accommodation and in some cases approach potential opposition.   I always have a sleepless couple of nights when I know the players are supposed to be arriving at their destination – some will come from the UK, others from South Africa or Australia and I’m always worried that someone will miss their flight!

“Player registration is a huge part of my role, I have to make sure I’m up to date with any player regulation or immigration changes and ensure that all the relevant paperwork is completed.  If we have any overseas players I have to make sure all their visas are in place before they can play.  I’m pretty much first point of contact for the Academy lads, many of them are away from home for the first time so if they have any problems they come to me.
“March is always pretty frantic, I start sourcing accommodation for those players that need it, the kit arrives, the players start coming back and all the departments are in full action mode for the likes of the Media Day and other pre season events plus the first match, which signals the start of a long summer.   I also need to find umpires to stand in matches where we may have any gaps in the second eleven schedule plus order the catering for match days. 

“Once the season starts, I focus on the day to day organising of the teams, which includes sending our squads to the opposition, producing Second Eleven scorecards for the outgrounds and completing the ‘Team Whereabouts’ schedules for the ECB and drugs testers so that they know where the players should be at all times.  

“If the ECB send a pitch inspector to the ground then I make sure that he gets all the information he needs during his visit and make sure he is housed in a suitable location.   After every match the captain has to complete an umpires report which has to be submitted to the ECB within 48 hours of each game.  The feedback from the captains contributes to the selection of the best umpires for the best matches.  Durham has submitted a full set of reports on time for the last three seasons which puts us at the top of the County leaderboard – Will Smith is very conscientious and always hands them in with minimum nagging from me!

“For away matches I organise the rooming lists for the team travelling, if there is a one day fixtures following a four day fixture trying to sort out rooms as the squad changes can be a real nightmare but as of yet no one has ended up sleeping on the floor!  

“The club has links with the United Arab Emirates and every summer a group of their players come over here to play in a tournament at Longhirst.  I help with as much of the organising as I can, and often assist with visa registration so we can give as many youngsters as possible the opportunity to come over here and experience north east cricket.

“My focus tends to be on Durham cricket so when it comes round to internationals my responsibilities include ordering the balls and making sure England and the opposition have the correct practice facilities and net bowlers.  On the day of the game I tend to assist the Executive Office.  

“My proudest moment during my time at the Club has to be when we won the Friends Provident Trophy down at Lord’s – despite there not being many people there on the second day because of the weather I was absolutely overjoyed at seeing Dale Benkenstein lift that trophy with Geoff and the boys by his side – there were a few tears in my eyes!

Next week spends a day with Corporate Sales Co-ordinator, VIcky Moore, who works in the Commercial team.