England has been blessed in recent days with a coming of the sun to burn away any lingering thoughts of the harsh winter. And with the county season again choosing to start early all those souls that sit side-by-side within office blocks or at home looking at retired photographs of the cricket they once played can now start to think of the summer again, even if a touch earlier than normal.
The County Championship, the now not so popular competition among those under 25, fr many April is the time to dust off the pads, sand back the blade of choice, play a few defensive shots in front of the mirror before the wife walks in and start to dream of big scores in June. The shoulder aches after the first official rolling of the arm and the smell of the freshly cut square as you walk past the ground is tempting you to begin play early.
County cricket on the other hand is in full swing with all teams reporting for duty over the weekend of April madness in the sun drenched grounds across the counties. I for one was lucky to escape the clutches of 'home duties' and made it down to the Rose Bowl Sunday to watch an interesting 3rd day of cricket from the new stands. I arrived to the ground on or about 11:00 only to hear the sound of many an appeal as the last 3 batsman were returned to the hutch by 11:20, oh the dismay of an early collapse, and not just from the batsman as Simon Jones & Dominic Cork both having to leave the field for treatment (Simon not returning) De Wet the new South African/Englishman found early wickets be it off no balls.
I have a habit when watching County cricket to always be wishing the best from my fellow countrymen (Australians) no matter which county they are playing for. I have many a story of an over night case of man-flu stopping me from getting to work, only to jump trains in the morning to see certain player obtain a 100. This day Di Venuto the 37 yr old veteran who's time in the gold & green are long past the Tasmanian opener, yet I always admired his gritty batting and on this day it seemed I might of got a milestone had it not been for the young Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs bringing my joy to an end on 40 as I opened the bag of sandwiches. My day concluded with an 'almost' historical moment as Stokes took to Dawson like a bowling machine putting him over the ropes 5 times only for a conference call to Nic Pothas insuring a 6th was not to leave the ground.
And so now my summer has begun a touch before the calendar tells me so, and a lot earlier than my wife would like. This week I shall begin the ritual of following the weather reports across 3 different websites and 2 news channels, the kit bag will be given an airing out, and the cricket shoes a wipe down, the whites still seem to be cream but the mind is completely bonkers on this silly little game. This weekend brings the early fixtures of the year, time to air out the arm pits with a few loose overs, and see if the bat works. Saturday brings a pre-season club match in Otterbourne and Sunday brings a debut at The Cradle of Cricket, and the weekend will bring further musings of a summers cricket is all that matters from April and September.