MIDDLESEX chief executive Vinny Codrington claims sound economics rather than political correctness lay behind the county one-day side's change of nickname, writes Jon Batham.
This year, they will be known as the Panthers, after they chose to end a 10-year association with the name Crusaders - a decision which led The Sun to accuse them of bowing to a squeamish minority among their 9,000-odd members.
But Codrington insisted, with a new unnamed sponsor on board, now was the perfect time for change of image.
"This isn't a case of political correctness gone mad," he said. "Over the course of 10 years we were always going to have one or two people who weren't overly happy with the name Crusaders.
"But if there had been enough dissenters over that time we would have changes the name long before now.
"The committee felt after our success in the Twenty20 last year and with a new sponsor on board, it was time for a change of brand.
"Too often in the past, supporters have had to buy a new shirt every year, and that's not fair, so it makes sound economic sense to change the sponsor and the name at the same time.
"This way, fans should be able to keep the same shirt for two or three years in a row."
Codrington revealed the new name was picked in a brainstorming session over a few beers.
Given the team play in pink as part of their support for a breast cancer charity, associations with the Pink Panther films are inevitable.
And, while it's to be hoped the team play better than the hapless Inspector Clouseau, it's a link Codrington was happy to encourage.
He joked: "The more we thought about the name, the better we thought it was.
"We might not all be able to wander around like Peter Sellers, but we could well become known as the Pink Panthers." [25a0] ANGUS FRASER hopes to unearth the next Mike Gatting by scouring the schools and cricket league of Middlesex.
The county's new director of cricket was part of a Middlesex side back in the late 1980s and early 1990s packed full of home-grown talent.
It proved one of the county's most successful eras as the men from Lord's scooped the Natwest Trophy in 1988 and won the County Championship in 1990 and 1993.
Fraser believes the spirit in the side generated from growing up together was one of the secrets of their success, and so wants to return to a time when Middlesex meant Middlesex.
He said: "One of my aims is to make Middlesex self-sufficient.
'The majority of the county side I played in came through the Middlesex system - people like Mike Gatting, Neil Williams, Paul Weekes and Simon Hughes.
"I'm not saying players are mercenaries or anything, but I think when you come up through a county set-up your pride in playing for that side is greater than if you are someone moving from team to team every few months."
Fraser is in a strong position to hit the ground running with his new ambition.
The Stanmore CC member was involved in schools cricket as recently as last year,when he coached his son's U15s side at John Lyon in Harrow to the Middlesex Schools County Cup.
And Fraser hopes to use these links to unearth the next Middlesex starlet.
He added: "There is a need to scour school cricket, and the Middlesex League is one of the strongest in the country,so I'd like to think it will be a breeding ground, rather than us going to other counties to lure people away.
"The long-term objective is have both a Middlesex side winning trophies and a structure through which to produce the next Andrew Strauss or Owais Shah."