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Honorary Degree Orations
Public Orator, Chris Earle presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 17 July at 10.30am
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, fellow graduates:
As we go through life we meet and have the fortune to work and play with some very special people: people who inspire us: people we admire: people we trust and people whose determination leaves us in awe: Hugh Morris is one of those special people.
As a County and International cricket player, as national Performance Director responsible for English cricket’s international standing, and latterly as Deputy Chief Executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Hugh Morris has always strived for and achieved excellence. As one of the main architects of the resurgence of English cricket his vision of excellence has included the forging of a multi-faceted relationship between high performance cricket and the University sector – and Loughborough University in particular.
Hugh has been instrumental in developing a number of key strategies for English cricket that have had far-reaching consequences for young people, for our national team and for the application of research in sport through the University sector. Through his relationship with Loughborough, the University has become both a central beneficiary and a major contributing partner in this process.
Perhaps the most visible symbol of the collaboration fostered by Hugh has been the creation of the highly successful National Cricket Centre and Academy Squad at Loughborough. Working alongside University staff, he was pivotal in the concept and development of the Centre. His leadership and innovative vision of a facility, encompassing technology and science research, utilising the expertise and the vibrant sports performance environment at Loughborough alongside an effective talent identification and coaching programme, was critical. It is a place envied by other sports both in this country and abroad.
Hugh had a long and successful playing career. Highlights include captaincy of England ‘A’, full international caps, he was Glamorgan County Cricket Club’s youngest ever captain, a club record number of runs and centuries in a season, and a record overall number of career centuries. Following retirement as a player, Hugh was quickly identified as a forward thinking administrator and strategist. In the late 1990s the development and implementation of the University-based Cricket Centres of Excellence became just one of his many contributions that has benefited the game of cricket. The initiative facilitated young cricketers studying at degree level completing their education without detriment to their professional careers, something from which many aspiring professional players had previously been precluded.
By 2000, Hugh was appointed ECB Performance Director and was given the task, within a 7 year period, of making England the best cricket team in the world. We must remember that, at the time, England had not won any of their last 5 Test match series and had slipped to a place amongst the International ‘also rans’.
Hugh designed and implemented a performance development strategy, as comprehensive as it was forward thinking, including modernisation of the coaching structure and delivery of cricket at all levels, under-pinned by attracting and appointing some of the best minds in world cricket, and critically, implementing the concept of the National Academy based at Loughborough. Last years ‘Ashes series’ victory over the present world champions Australia was no accident; overseen by Hugh’s directorship, the result confirmed that in a relatively short period, England had re-emerged as a leading contender in international competition, well on-course, to be the world’s best by 2007 (with allowances made for the occasional blip against Sri Lanka and a hope that our bowlers demolish the Pakistani batsman by close-of play today).
Hugh’s performance programme sees England cricketers at all levels collaborating with, and benefiting from, University research programmes in sports technology, in biomechanics, sports physiology and nutrition; and collaborations in sports psychology, in coaching and performance lifestyle developments. Both University researchers and sport in general have benefited from Hugh’s drive to bring cutting-edge research closer to cutting edge sports performance.
In honouring Hugh today we are also honouring Debbie his wife, his children Bethan and Emily and those close friends and work colleagues who have supported him over the past few years. In December 2002 Hugh was diagnosed with throat cancer, but following four major operations and extensive radiotherapy treatment he returned to the ECB as Deputy Chief Executive. His contribution to cricket, and sport more broadly, is substantial and widely recognised. His fervent and consistent advocacy of the application of research and technology-based techniques to contemporary sport, I believe, should be recognised by this University.
Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you and the University, HUGH MORRIS for the Degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.