Well folks, Christmas is coming and we come closer to the end of another year.
Activity at Derbyshire this week seems to have revolved around Alex Hughes delivering memberships and the players having what appears to have been a sports-themed Christmas party, from the photos on Twitter. All good stuff, of course and the reality is that we will know little else about next season's plans, I guess, until the new year and the IPL draft.
There's little point in contracting an early season overseas player until we know if he will be involved in the Indian competition for several weeks. We must be patient and acknowledge that behind the scenes a lot of work is doubtless going on.
Off the field, I realised this week that my work's new holiday policy, where next year's calendar opens up in November before the fixtures are announced, is not conducive to booking cricket trips. I managed to get a week in July and August in there for family breaks, but neither coincides with the cricket as announced. Perhaps as well, as neither are to God's own county.
I have managed to work a long weekend around the opening four-day game at Derby, because it is usually too cold for most to holiday, so should get to see what we look like then. Another couple of planned trips have been knocked back, at least for now. I will also pull in a couple of days in Durham for the four-day game there, all being well and will shape the rest of my visits when we get into the new year.
Elsewhere, the usual suspects have started to blame England's tour travails on the county schedule, likely doing a copy and paste from the last time they wrote it, which was when we last lost a series. It's funny, when we win, no one says it is because of the excellent grounding on the county circuit, but when we lose, it's like they are being made to work the pit face, naked, with a knife and fork for tools.
When we read that Steven Finn has 'pace sucked out of him by the daily grind' there is an initial sympathy, until one explores further and sees he bowled less than 300 overs in the summer just past. There will be plenty of veterans who will laugh a little at that, and a good few for who that was around a month's bowling.
I don't pretend the life of a county cricketer is easy, because it isn't. Everyone wants a pop at you, thinks they could do as well, given opportunity and thinks you should score runs and take wickets every time you play. It doesn't work like that, but it also a life of privilege, as many realise when it is no longer there and an 'ordinary life' beckons.
The England squad, in my humble opinion, would be better served by appreciating what they have and not treating a tour like an all-expenses paid jolly, which this tour appears to have become. With privilege comes responsibility, certainly in personal conduct and, like anyone in the public eye, there will always be those out there who are ready and wanting to bring you down.
Making four-day cricket less of an unwelcome guest might help too. Playing four-day cricket in the early part of the year, when quick bowlers can't get warm and the dibbly-dobblies thrive is stupid. You won't win in Australia with Darren Stevens, even if he will get 30 wickets by the end of May on slow, green wickets as sure as night turns to day.
If the cricket authorities seriously want to win the Test series and see it as more prestigious than a T20 series win (which it is) then they need to show its importance with scheduling. I'd guess that Harold Rhodes and Bill Copson were more willing to let themselves go on a warm day when the muscles were loose and the wicket had a bit of bounce. When those conditions are available now, our bowlers want only to bowl wide yorkers and a range of slower balls.
Anyway, I can't change it any more than you and the suits at Lord's only want to increase the game's pulling power with a city-based T20, which for me remains doomed to failure.
On the bright side, if it succeeds there will be a lot more people interested in the game who will wonder why we are so poor as a touring side.
And start to ask questions themselves...
I will be back before Christmas - see you then.