Round about now, as I type this. Derbyshire will be getting into pre-season action with a fifty-over game against Essex at the Sheikh Zayed stadium.
There was an excellent pre-tour dinner /auction, organised by the players themselves (what Frank Sinatra would doubtless have called a Dubai, Dubai Do...) but they were met by rain on the first day in a place where the sun shines for most of the year.
Nonetheless, I am sure that the tour will be very beneficial, There are other games, of varying duration, on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, all of them geared to getting the players back to bowling and batting on turf.
Cricket is back!
In other news of recent days, a reorganisation of the county game (yes, another one) will see only one side promoted this year, which makes the fight for promotion an even more intense affair. There have been shouts of dissension, although it is simply a return to a two-division version of what county cricket used to be.
The danger is, of course, that several counties could get to August with little left to play for but pride in the four-day game. Many people of a certain vintage will recall matches in August and September where one team turned up looking like they would rather be anywhere but playing a meaningless fixture. It will result in such games, without doubt and the benefit of two promotion places on competition is considerable.
I am a fan of condensing the T20 to midsummer though, where the likelihood of good weather and bigger crowds is greater. In doing this you have a fair chance of recruiting bigger overseas names too, after the IPL has been done and dusted.
I'm still not a fan of a city-based franchise competition though. I accept the financial rewards it will bring in theory and if that filters to ALL counties I am happy with that. Yet the chances of Derby being one of those cities is remote, in my opinion, so broadly speaking I couldn't care who wins between the others. Given that I come, Lord of the Rings style, from the shire than the city, it is always going to be so.
Would I watch it? Maybe, if it was on the TV and I wasn't busy. Would I make special arrangements and leave work early to do so? No. Not in a million years.
Never mind. Cricket is back and in a few short weeks we will all be back at the 3aaa County Ground (aka the building site, right now) for OUR team.
Now that is something to make special arrangements for...