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Mark Pennell at Tunbridge Wells
June 7, 2012
Hampshire 90 for 3 (Katich 43*) v Kent
Having moved on a couple of their higher-paid players and cut staff levels to the bone in an effort to ease the financial burden of ground redevelopment work in Canterbury, the last thing Kent needed was this dismal, rain-ruined start to the season.
Hundreds of overs lost have been lost, attendances are down by a third on like-for-like figures from 2011 and beer sales have plummeted accordingly. Little wonder then that the county's chief executive, Jamie Clifford, was hoping for a sun-filled cricket week in Tunbridge Wells.
Instead, Clifford and the Kent faithful have witnessed only 33.4 overs of action during the opening two, rain-affected days of the 100th Tunbridge Wells week and, rather like the sodden outfield at the Nevill Ground, Clifford will struggle to cope with much more of it.
"Operationally you have to keep smiling and chivvying people along, tomorrow's another day and all that, but inside I can't help but know that this weather is starting to affect us," Clifford said. "People's hard work is being washed down the drain and that's disappointing. But we are only two days into a six-day festival, so we might still have some cricket and a little more cause for optimism."
Clifford is also mindful that the financial support the county receives from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is also being undermined by the inclement weather and the knock-on effect of dwindling attendances.
"The efforts of the club and the Borough Council in staging an event like this, well away from our headquarters, are not being rewarded," he said. "The council's financial input is not insignificant and they need to see some return on that by way of economic benefit to the town as a whole. They want to see big attendances, people coming to the town, having a beer and a bite to eat and filling hotel rooms for the nights. They aren't getting any of that right now.
"The support they give us is fundamental to us coming here. The model really works and we generally get big crowds in here, but all that starts to look a little different when we get prolonged spells of poor weather like this."
And though Clifford has insurance cover (under the ECB's rain-day policy) to protect Kent's opening Friends Life t20 clash against neighbours Sussex, scheduled for Tuesday night, he admits the club would still suffer substantial losses should the fixture be washed out.
"There are some big numbers that fall outside of the insurance cover, like beer sales, food, merchandising in the club shop and programme sales," he said. "Advance ticket sales are looking good and we're on course for a sell out, but if the weather hits us again and we get no cricket, then you only have to add those sums together to know they will have a big impact on us."
As for the second day, only 18.3 overs were bowled during which Hampshire added 40 to their overnight score. When the rain returned 30 minutes from the scheduled lunch interval, the visitors had reached 90 for 3, with Simon Katich and Liam Dawson unbeaten on 43 and 22 respectively.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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