Warwickshire County Cricket Club has paid tribute to the “outstanding commitment” of three Board members as the trio step down after more than 20 years’ combined service to the Club.

Michelle Leavesley, John Dodge and Paul Doona all officially resigned from Warwickshire’s Board at the AGM on 16 February. Michelle and John have both reached the nine-year maximum tenure.

During their time they’ve seen Warwickshire win the County Championship, the development of the new pavilion and growth of Edgbaston’s reputation as one of the world’s best cricket venues. They also helped steer the Club through the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Retired accountant Paul – a Club Member since the late 1980s – has been on the Board for three years and is Chair of the Audit and Risk committee.

Michelle made Club history when she became the Club’s first independent non-executive Director in 2014 – and one of the first female directors in English cricket. 

“Edgbaston will always have a very special place in my heart,” said Michelle. 

“We’ve evolved the Club into a much more welcoming and inclusive facility, a genuine home of cricket for all. That’s really important to me, I live in the city and want local people to be able to relate to the ground and feel that Edgbaston is genuinely a place for everyone.

“I’m particularly proud of the way we’re pushing the boundaries on women and girls’ cricket. We still have more to do but I can be proud of the progress we’ve made. 

“Collectively there is a lot of responsibility on the Board, everything from investment strategy to health and safety in the ground, and more recently cyber security and sustainability. I must thank all my board colleagues.

“I wish my successor Tracey Orr the very best of luck and look forward to seeing the Club continue on its epic journey.”

John has spent nine years on the Board but has been involved with the Club for 28 years, stretching back to 1995 when he joined the Warwickshire County Cricket Supporters’ Association, a lottery that raised £1.3m for youth cricket.

In those 28 years at Edgbaston he’s seen two Presidents, four Chairs, four Chief Executives, seven Directors of Cricket, 12 captains…and three championships.

“I’ve been involved with the Club in some capacity for 40 per cent of my life,” said John, “so it’ll be a wrench to leave, no doubt about that. 

“But the Club is always a work in progress, there are exciting times ahead and the future for the Club is really bright. It’s time for others to guide the Club forward to that next stage.

“Being on the Board is a team effort, not about individuals. It’s a collective and there’s a wide range of expertise and skills around the table. No surprises is what we’re about, be thoughtful, have a plan and process and be mindful of the people involved.”

As Chair of Audit and Risk, Paul’s role has been to prepare the Club for the unexpected, everything from a floodlight failure to a severe weather incident, or an illness outbreak amongst players.

He said: “I thought there was a glass ceiling to the Board I couldn’t break through, that they were protected positions. But it wasn’t the case. Any member who is passionate about the Club and wants to play an active role in shaping its future should have ambitions to join the Board. It’s been a huge privilege. 

“I love the Club and will continue to support Warwickshire as a member. I used to love watching Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott playing together. Weren’t we lucky to see those two in their pomp?

“Hopefully the team will create more memories this season.”

Warwickshire Chair, Mark McCafferty, said: “It’s impossible to pay adequate tribute to the contribution which John, Michelle and Paul have made over so many years to the development of Warwickshire and Edgbaston. We owe them huge thanks and appreciation. 

“They’ve been central over that time to success on and off the pitch, and to helping make Edgbaston for Everyone. While signing off at the Board, I know that as lifelong Bears, they’ll continue to be involved in representing and supporting the Club with distinction.”

The Club will be confirming the new Board members soon.

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