By crikey, it feels good to type those words above!
Graeme Welch has named the following squad for the two-day game against his old county, Warwickshire, that starts at the County Ground tomorrow. It is as follows:
Adam Shepherd (on trial)
Do we read much - or, indeed anything - into the team selection? Well, the batting line-up is, before the arrival of Shivnarine Chanderpaul this weekend, what I would see as our strongest at this stage. Perhaps this game and the one against Durham UCCE to follow offer Billy Godleman and Paul Borrington an opportunity to stake a claim to the opening berth alongside Stephen Moore. Both are players of unquestionable talent and if one can translate that into weight of runs we will benefit as a side.
Similarly, Clare, Poynton, Wainwright is the likely 7-9 in the order for most people and the workout will be useful for all of them. Though perhaps the greatest interest is in the seam bowling lineup.
Welch will know all he really needs about Palladino, Groenewald and Footitt, all of who are probably lined up for the first Championship game against Leicestershire. He could go with four seamers on an early summer track, so David Wainwright will need to show he can contribute as he did so well in our championship summer two years back. With Durston and Hughes likely to be in the side, Welch could afford to play all four and still have useful slow variations in his attack.
Mark Turner has had little cricket so far with a knee injury, so has a chance to play catch up, while Ben Cotton, who seems to be at the forefront of the seam bowling young guns, has another chance to impress. Both should get a plenty of overs in the two days.
The most interesting name in the twelve is Adam Shepherd, a fast-medium bowler who took a lot of wickets for Lincolnshire last summer in the Minor Counties and has appeared in the second teams of several first-class counterparts. At 22, the Nottingham-born youngster has time on his side and it will be interesting to see how he shapes up.
I'm sure there's a good few of you who plan to go along for a while and are looking out the thermos, blankets and thermal underwear for another early summer's day of cricket watching. I envy you, if I am honest, but look forward to being down at Derby for the Hampshire game in a couple of weeks to see the boys as we start our home county campaign.