There have been two regular themes in the messages I have had in the past two weeks. Sub-themes if you like, with the main one being 'How can we force results this year'
My answer, to be honest, would be to pour water on the wicket for an hour before the third day's play, but don't think that would work too well with the authorities, nor the groundsmen, for that matter. Mind you, it should get some results going...
Anyway, the two suggestions have been:
'We need a new Charl Langeveldt'.
I dare say that Graeme Welch wouldn't say no, if one came on the market, but the world game - or specifically, the Kolpak-enabled world game - isn't awash with such players. Given that to claim such status players must have recently played the game at international level, be giving that up and be from Zimbabwe, South Africa or the West Indies, it doesn't leave a huge talent pool to choose from.
Only the Saffers from that short list have any bowlers and since they use so many for different forms of the game, anyone of any talent still has reasonable grounds for international inclusion. I think most will see that as a preferable option to the county grind, to be honest.
'We should have signed a quality spinner this winter'
OK. Who? There are none in England. My regular joke to Edwin Smith is that if he got his whites back out, he'd be in the top six off-spinners in England now, at 82. Even our Test off-spinner really isn't that good. I've had the names of James Tredwell and Monty Panesar suggested, neither of who are match-winning bowlers, certainly in four-day cricket.
Internationally there is a similar dearth. The Indians can't come, Pakistan don't have any stand-outs, Sri Lanka's best spinner (Herath) looks less of an athlete than me and the best West Indian (Narine) has recurring doubts over his action. Imran Tahir would probably be in-demand should he decide to come here, but I doubt South Africa would want him to do so.
Ish Sodhi of New Zealand looked a decent bowler in the World T20, but that was on helpful wickets and a career average of over 40 in first-class cricket doesn't suggest he would run through teams on this summer's tracks.
No, they are valid questions but there is no easy answer. I hope that the 'experiment' on the toss is consigned to the scrapheap and we can have result wickets again next year. Ones that give all bowlers a chance of success and batsmen a chance to make runs if they have the technique.
If they don't they risk killing the four-day game.
Unless, of course, that is the Machiavellian intention...