I think I overdosed on cricket a little during the winter. Touring India meant early starts for those supporting from back home, trying to get as much in before dragging ourselves off to work in the tea break and hoping to log in to the ball-by-ball updates on Cricinfo without missing that key wicket – or getting fired.
Then the New Zealand leg started and it was all about staying up as late as possible and trying to keep the TV volume low enough so as not to wake your flatmates/neighbours/girlfriend (who probably broke up with you after keeping her awake through 15 days of cricket only for it to end 0-0) and then arriving at work bleary-eyed, and trying not to get fired.
Still, today the county season starts - which to me represents the arrival of summer (yes, yes, I know it snowed a few days ago, but still - cricket is a summer game right?), and after a little break I feel ready again. Matt Prior’s heroics in Auckland are still fresh enough in the mind to have me looking forward to the revenge series over here (we’ll show ‘em right lads?), and then of course, there’s the Ashes. Twice.
The county season however, deserves to at least be noticed before the really serious stuff starts. While glancing through Twitter yesterday I saw all nine teams in Division One being tipped for the title – and not by their own county feeds or former pros. Michael Vaughan even tipped Surrey for the title – clearly the Graeme Smith factor has got people interested.
I’m one of the few people it seems, who actually enjoys the county championship. It rarely fails to provide a tight finish – something Football’s Premier League is not managing this season (alright, so it was quite close in 2012), and provided the first half of the season isn’t totally washed out, these predictions indicate it is going to be as unpredictable as ever.
There will be a host of young players trying to break into the international set up, although it seems likely now that the Test elite have already been anointed, a place on a winter tour is always worth striving for – while the ICC Champions Trophy, for once, represents a realistic chance of silverware in the 50-over format.
I intend to get to as much cricket as possible this summer. After work wanders to Lords and The Oval should be easy enough, despite how absurdly difficult it is to get Test tickets, the county game will forever remain one of the last events where grabbing a ticket on the gate is as simple as ever - and that is something to be celebrated.
Last year the star of the season was Nick Compton, whose achievements were today recognised by being named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year. I which player will surprise us in 2013.