As the weather closes in and the thermometer plummets, the announcement of the summer cricket fixtures is always eagerly anticipated and somehow makes the Spring and warmer weather seem a little closer.
And yet, once again, I looked at the fixtures yesterday and wondered who the ECB have in mind with the dates chosen.
Certainly not the average working man. With the exception of the first two home games, when the weather is rarely of shirt sleeve variety, Derbyshire's four-day cricket has only two weekend days over the entire summer, one of them the fourth day of a game that may or may not feature a lot of cricket. It's the same with the RLODC, with only one game at a weekend.
July and August are better for the T20, with most games scheduled on a Friday night or weekend, but I can't see myself driving the 316 miles (yes, I've logged it) from my house to the 3aaa County Ground and then back again, for three hours of cricket. If I was down there, of course, it would be a different matter.
It's all fine and dandy if you are unemployed or retired and the club membership, at £139 for the summer represents outstanding value for those who have the time to attend a lot of the matches. For the traditional working fan, who prefers to see the ebb and flow of a longer game, rather than the more 'in your face' T20, it means that your opportunities to watch the game are ever more eroded.
With 25 days leave a year and a hefty percentage of that time rightly allotted to spending time with my family, I'd hoped for more Friday starts, enabling an early morning 5am departure on that day, watch a couple of days cricket and then head home on the Sunday.
As it stands, I will be doing that in early season and then perforce being selective on my visits thereafter, as far as the constraints of my leave allocation allows.
I've penciled in a few early possibilities and the away game at Durham offers a chance to watch a day when I can travel there and back, but it is all rather frustrating.
The next time you see the powers that be bemoaning attendances at four-day cricket, and citing those attendances as rationale for changing the game's format, keep in mind that the same dozy beggars who arrange it all at Lord's are the ones hammering the nails in the coffin of traditional cricket.
Finally today, it is good to see Luis Reece making a decent fist of his bowling, at least, in Bangladesh's Premier League T20. Reece took three wickets in his last match - albeit at eleven an over, though runs have been harder to come by.
Mind you, as selection decisions go, it takes some working out. Here you have a lad who earns a gig in the tournament with fine scoring at the top of the order for Derbyshire. So they take him over there and bat him at six, which in T20 - indeed any form of the game - is a very different mindset.
Sometimes I wonder who earns good money for these decisions. It's like signing an attacking midfield player and playing him at right back in football and makes little more sense.
At least I generally have confidence in the decision-making at Derbyshire these days. Aside from the puzzling promotion of Hardus Viljoen in the T20 quarter-final, when the defence was that desperate times called for desperate measures (and I'm still not convinced...) most of the thought processes are logical.
There's been plenty of times when that couldn't always be said, believe me...