35 days to go and I'm taking advantage of a day off today (don't feel too jealous, it's because I'm working on Saturday...) to catch up on the old bloggery.
A few looks at the Newsnow site has confirmed I was right to hold on my predictions for the coming season as there are still a lot of signings going on. Middlesex are apparently in talks with Lasith Malinga, who is keen to play and live in London, presumably one of the reasons he declined an approach from Derbyshire. One assumes that he will bowl better for them than he did against India the other day, when his eight overs went for 97 runs and he appeared to be bowling in an invisible blindfold. Malinga is a very good bowler, but his technique is so unique that any slight change sees the ball go off anywhere. On his day, which is often, he is a fine bowler, but Middlesex will hope for better than that for what they will probably have to pay.
Talking of blindfolds - or at least masks, I'm guessing that Scott Newman will play in one this season as cricket's Loan Ranger. First he's at Surrey, who loan him to Middlesex, where he signs. Then Middlesex loan him to Kent for the start of the coming season, a deal to be confirmed in the coming days. If Essex lose any more players to the IPL, England or tours, expect to see him there before season end as he completes a full set of south east counties. I've seen Newman bat quite brilliantly, but he is fallible early in an innings and has never quite realised early promise.
Jimmy Adams at Kent is promising "a couple" of new names (one of who will be Newman) and after losing James Tredwell and Azhar Mahmood to various overseas commitments his squad looks like Mother Hubbard's pantry before she does a big shop. Perhaps they could move for Jamie Dalrymple, who as the season approaches is still without a county and is surely too good a player to be lost to the county game altogether?
Meanwhile "oop north" Lancashire have signed Ashwell Prince for Championship and 40-over cricket this season, a very solid signing that confirms he is unlikely to make the South African tour party. That is hardly surprising, given the depth of talent in that country and the fact that they have to bring some through or risk losing too many star players at the same time - which happened to Australia.
As for Derbyshire, there's little news emanating from the club just now, but plenty going on. It was gratifying to hear of the work being undertaken by the younger members of the first team squad with the club Academy. Such work serves a dual purpose, because in helping other, younger players it makes you think a little more about your own game. When bad trots come along - as they do, no matter how good you are - you are perhaps better able to work out ways of self-help, like keeping your head still and playing a little straighter than you have been. Working on coaching badges helped me, so for people who can actually play the game to a high level it must be a great asset. Full marks to the club in introducing this idea, which will also help immensely with club spirit.
In closing, I must share with you a surprise I got last night, when my club released the work of one of our members, who has spent hours working on the club records. Apparently I still share the club's highest ever partnership for the third wicket, eighteen years after it was made in 1994. I'm not sure what is the biggest suprise - that it is still the record, that is was REALLY eighteen years ago or that we actually beat one of Scotland's better club sides that day. The partnership was 141, which is the second highest in the club history and I can only conclude that if I batted that long today I would probably be bed-ridden for at least 48 hours...
See you soon!