Ed Smith had to go as captain of Middlesex because his teammates no longer trusted him.
That was the blunt admission of a senior source at the club after Smith was told on Monday he wouldn't lead the team in 2009.
The 31-year-old's captaincy had been under the microscope for some time, with question marks over his leadership style never far from the surface,even though he had been out of action since June with a broken foot.
The door has been left open for him to continue as a batsman, but the odds must be on Smith heading out the Grace Gates permanently.
It was just the start of a major overhaul of the Middlesex lead-ership in a difficult week at Lord's.
Within hours of Smith's removal, his replacement for much of the summer,Ed Joyce, stood down as acting captain, with veteran spinner Shaun Udal stepping into the void for the remainder of the season.
"Ed Smith's captaincy has been under scrutiny for some time,and it was felt he no longer had the confidence of the dressing room or the committee," said the source.
If few will shed tears over Smith's removal from office, Joyce relinquishing the captaincy will fuel fears of another senior player departing.
The former England international led the Seaxes to their first trophy in 15 years in July,lifting the Twenty20 cup.
However, it seems his stalling over signing a new deal, amid rumours of offers from Surrey and Hampshire, was also undermining confidence at the county.
"It was suggested to Joyce that as he hadn't signed a contract, and that with the trip to Antigua coming up in December and the four-day form not being good, it was difficult for others to be focused when he hadn't made a firm commitment to the club," the source added.
Udal will lead the side in the Stanford Super Series this winter,with a permanent s k i p p e r appointment waiting until a new director of cricket is installed in another part of overhauling the Middlesex hierarchy.
South African coach Mickey Arthur is one rumoured candidate.However,our source denied any such appointment would put head coach Toby Radford's role in doubt.
"It's entirely wrong to say Toby's job is in question," said the source.
"He has done a good job this year in difficult circumstances, and he'll be with us through the winter and into next season."