'What do you think of the hashtag DCCCINUAE' I was asked today by a friend.
Well, it's a rough deal in Countdown...
Anyway, our lads should be there by now, doubtless enjoying temperatures considerably different to back home, even ahead of a supposedly balmy weekend. It offers a chance to bond still further, get some sun on their backs, practice batting and bowling outdoors and limit the risk of pulling muscles as bowlers come in off full runs.
It is ideal and idyllic, in supposedly wonderful facilities, so there is much to like.
What I especially liked today was the reading of Mark Eklid's excellent interview with Graeme Welch in the Derby Telegraph. The confidence of the coach in his squad shone through and his comments about the change in the likes of Tom Taylor, Greg Cork and Tom Knight merely emphasised what I wrote in last night's piece. Thankfully there was no mention of Ben Cotton having grown, or we'd have been sorted for an extra floodlight pylon...
There's plenty of reasons to be optimistic and I can't recall a stronger looking squad in many years. There is competition for places in batting and bowling, as well as behind the stumps. I couldn't begin to pick a first choice side at present, itself a reflection on the improvement in the squad.
I read a couple of interesting pieces today. One was by George Dobell on Cricinfo, where he lamented the decline in pace of Steve Finn, who has gone from pace bowler to fast medium merchant in around a year. Dobell, a very good writer, goes on to say his place is in danger from the likes of Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett and Boyd Rankin. All well and good, but once more it is the same old, same old.
Right arm fast-medium ad infinitum...I am unconvinced by any of those named at international level and none are in the first flush of youth, still to be labelled in the 'promising' category. Mark Wood is younger and talented, but will need to show he can take good wickets away from the Riverside to take the next step.
I cannot understand, even now, why Mark Footitt didn't get games for the Lions in South Africa, but England's loss is very much our gain. All he can do is start the summer as he finished the last one and if he produces enough of what Brian Jackson used to call 'hob-shatterers' early on, he has to come into the frame. You may get the odd erratic ball from Mark, but you get some rip-snorting fast ones as well and if he is in the groove there's few batsmen will fancy his left-arm pace coming at them from the pavilion end.
The other piece I read was from the Burton Mail, and refers to Chris Grant's recent visit to the Needwood Cricket Lovers Society. Apparently we turned down a chance to host a Bryan Adams concert (shame, as his Summer of '69 was allegedly written about our Gillette Cup Final appearance that year...) but hope to attract Elton John in the future.
Well we can do now we've turned the square. I'm afraid Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me would have been way too poignant when the setting sun used to interrupt the T20s in previous years...
At which point I will get my coat...enjoy your weekend. And for those in Abu Dhabi, don't forget the sun cream!