Despite several inches of snow that has covered our gardens and streets in the past few days, the cricket season seems closer now. We're getting through January, then have one more month until we can say that cricket starts 'next month'.
There have been a few signings in recent days. Lancashire signed Joe Mennie, an Australian fast medium bowler with one Test match to his name, as their overseas player for the season. His first-class record is OK, but it is not a signing that will have had people looking the membership hotline. Then again, he could be the latest in a long and successful line that includes John Hastings and Steve Magoffin and the red rose county will hope for similar results, as will Durham, after signing Nathan Rimmington through his UK passport.
Down the road, Leicestershire will have their overseas role shared between Mohammad Abbas and Sohail Khan. The two fast medium bowlers have excellent first-class records, though, as we found last year with Jeevan Mendis, overseas figures don't always tell the truth about players as the standard can be variable. Both have OK international records, but the signings will have been made with one eye on the city's sizeable ethnic population. If they can get a few more people into the ground and produce some decent statistics, then they will have done their job.
Over in Australia, Matt Critchley hit 149 for his Sydney grade side to suggest he is in decent nick. I think he will start the summer at six in the Derbyshire side, then what he makes of the position will dictate where it goes from there. With a seamer as overseas in early season, he and Wayne Madsen will offer spin variation, unless we slip Hamidullah Qadri into the side on a likely wicket.
There is a nice solidity to the batting line-up, assuming all are in form, with good men outside of it. Getting the right signatures for those overseas roles could make for an interesting old summer.