Robert Croft has “left his role” as Glamorgan head coach, a misguided piece of subterfuge that Graham Thomas says reflects the drift and failed strategies of a county still falling behind.
You can often judge the state of a professional sports set-up by the line peddled when they sack their coach.
There is the brutal pragmatism of Premier League football clubs, who specialise in two-sentence announcements.
“Club X and manager Y have parted company by mutual consent. We would like to wish Y every success for the future.”
Then, there is the mealy-mouthed variation Glamorgan reached for on Wednesday afternoon after they decided to bin Robert Croft.
“It is with regret that we announce that Robert Croft has left his role as head coach of Glamorgan Cricket after three years in the role.”
There’s a surplus of ‘rolling” in there, but forget that and concentrate instead on the “has left” narrative. It’s as though the head coach simply got up from his desk, walked out through the front door of Sophia Gardens, jumped into his car drove off . . . without so much as a goodbye or explanation.
The reality, however, is that Croft was dismissed, a fact tacitly acknowledged 10 paragraphs further down the statement by chief executive Hugh Morris. Morris says: “It was an incredibly difficult decision for the board to make, but given our performances in the County Championship we feel it is the right time for a change.”
It is difficult to argue with Morris’s suggestion that Glamorgan’s performances last season were unacceptable, but much easier to argue the coach was not the man primarily responsible.
Croft was in charge for three years, but statistically speaking, the county have been useless for a lot longer than that. In the 13 years since they were relegated to Division Two of the County Championship, they have managed to finish in the top half of the table just twice.
Last season, they finished bottom and looked for all the world like a team who would find things much more attuned to their level if someone had invented a division three.
They have had sporadic success in one-day cricket – and just over a year ago, under Croft, they reached Finals Day in the T20 Blast competition – but overall it has been a miserable decade or more of decline.
Croft’s brief was the same as that given to his predecessor Toby Radford – to build a team, consisting of one or two well-paid, experienced internationals supplemented by a lot of raw, inexperienced home-grown players.
Those youngsters would come cheap, as would the occasional journeyman used to plug any gaps.
That strategy has been adhered to, but the other demand – to actually win cricket matches – has, unsurprisingly, been more difficult to deliver, with the consequence that Croft is now on his way.
With Radford and Croft gone, the only consistent factor is that the man who hired them and outlined the direction of travel – Morris – is still there.
When the county brought in former England conditioning coach Huw Bevan last month to conduct an external review, one of his suggestions was the hiring of a new director of cricket.
Morris has been doing that role, along with the CEO job, so he effectively sacked himself when he relinquished the post, although the landing is not quite as heavy as Croft’s since Morris has not fallen on his sword as chief executive.
But his strategy has proved flawed. While the Wales national football and rugby teams have created a buzz of energy around youngsters on the field, carefully guiding them, Glamorgan give the impression their young players are peripheral rather than central to the cause.
Instead of being nurtured and supported, they have been exposed – expected to cover for glaring holes in the batting and bowling line-ups – and with every failure has come an eroding of confidence.
The priority still appears to be the venue itself, as an event location – earning money through bidding – and even through not bidding – for hosting rights.
The alarm was sounded earlier this year when Aneurin Donald, a highly promising batsman whose form had dipped, decided he wasn’t going to get anywhere staying with Glamorgan if he wanted to play for England.
After all, Glamorgan haven’t produced an international player for 13 years. Donald left to join Hampshire, prompting Morris to shake his head in bewilderment rather than assess what had gone wrong.
Now, Croft has also gone and it would be a brave man to bet that some of the nuggets that remain, such as Kiran Carlson, will be at the county for the long term.