Jon Dunham – Smith’s honesty is the definitely the best policy

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

I am a firm believer that honesty is always the best policy.

Too often excuses are made and people choose to hide behind overused cliches when their team or players aren’t performing to their full capability.

It doesn’t matter what the job is, whether it is sport or any other occupation, if you are a paid professional and you aren’t performing then you shouldn’t be too surprised if someone, somewhere lets you know about it.

There will be those who read Northamptonshire chief executive David Smith’s quotes in the Northants Telegraph this week and felt he stepped close to that imaginary line that some believe exists.

In the wake of a humbling 271-run defeat to Yorkshire in Division One of the County Championship – Northants’ fifth loss in a row – Smith pulled no punches.

“The level of performance is just not acceptable and the players are letting themselves down,” he said.

“The teams we are playing against aren’t carrying players but we are and the bottom line is that there are individuals who don’t match the ambition of the club and board and they will be leaving.”

A scathing assessment from the man who has led from the front since arriving at Wantage Road and who can well claim to take a lot of credit for the way things turned round for the better last season.

As an outsider looking in, there’s no doubt that there are issues with the Championship form.

Northants have put themselves into useful positions in the majority of their matches, only to allow them to slip away while seemingly surrendering with the bat.

In any sport, there is a right and wrong way to lose. As Smith observed: “It’s the way we’re losing games that I’m worried about.”

Any supporter, manager or chief executive will accept losing as long as everyone in the colours has given everything they can. They won’t like it, but they will accept it.

And Smith clearly feels that hasn’t been the case of late.

I won’t lie, as journalists there is nothing better when someone is willing to be brutally blunt about a certain situation. It makes for great copy.

But since those quotes came out, I haven’t exactly seen a queue of people coming forward to tell us that what Smith said was wrong.

Make no mistake, Northants are up against the cream of the crop at the moment. But this is what they worked for last season, this is what they wanted.

And for them to simply allow their stay in the top flight to be as forgettable as it may prove to be is, at best, bitterly disappointing.

It may well be the case that the other teams are simply better. There’s no shame in that. But that doesn’t mean you have to roll over for them.

Clearly, the defeat to Yorkshire this week was the breaking point as far as Smith is concerned. No doubt David Ripley will feel the same.

So when changes are made and some players are frozen out, they really can’t have too many complaints.