What with all the excitement that’s been going on in the Cricket World Cup (albeit not really chronicled here; will try to amend that shortly), one could probably be forgiven for forgetting that the domestic season’s also kicking off in England, something which for some reason surprised me, as the Sheffield Shield final was only a week ago.
And what a way for it to kick off, with the first day of the traditional MCC vs County Champions curtain raiser seeing 18 wickets fall. With Steve Kirby’s Pfeiffer leaving Nottinghamshire reeling on 86/8 at stumps following MCC’s somewhat lame 218, this match could be over before the final scheduled day of play.
As intriguing as the match is, it’s a bit of a shame that the MCC decided to shift this match over to Abu Dhabi last year, not that anyone would have turned up had it been at Lord’s, seeing as no one other than people with more than a passing interest in domestic cricket would be aware that it was happening. Fortunately, the Abu Dhabi locals have made the effort to recreate a typical English county game by not turning up, so not to confuse any of the players who’ve probably forgotten what it’s like to play in front of a handful of people when they’re in flannels.
The actual County Championship thing
Meanwhile, the ECB decided to do something out of character and do something sensible with the County season. Rather than attack the County Championship with a pair of George Osbourne’s scissors as they had been contemplating for a long time, they instead turned on the FPT20. County bean counters expressed dissatisfaction with the move to cut the number of games in the competition down, but surely anyone with cricket in their best interests could see that as the tournament reached its 384th game last year, it was beginning to look like the entertainment spectacle equivalent of a fat Elvis snuffing it whilst on the bog.
My main concern for the season will be how Kent perform. Following relegation to Division Two last season, reporting an operating loss of over half a million pounds and a threadbare squad featuring half a bowler and no overseas player, the great thing about being an outright pessimist for the season means I can be either pleasantly surprised if results exceed low expectations or blame poor performances on the circumstances.
As for Division One, it will be difficult for the teams to match the nerve-jangling climax which saw Notts clinch the title in the final hour of the season, but it will still be the only part of the English domestic season which I’ll be paying attention to, between Test matches, club matches, mid-week nets under the sun and probably working etc.