Full marks to Derbyshire County Cricket Club for their excellent membership promotion for 2012. They have pretty much covered the angles on it, whether you are primarily a fan of one-day or four-day cricket, or whether you live near to the County Ground or further away.
Those involved are to be applauded for the considerable research that has gone into the work, which richly deserves to succeed and result in a higher membership level than has been the case over the club's history. With car parking included at various rates, membership of the cricket club represents extraordinary value in a time of recession, certainly compared to football. When one also considers that your heroes are more accessible than their footballing counterparts it is, for me, a no-brainer as to which one represents the better deal.
The only angle that was missed, for me, was the one that was available a few years back for distant fans like me who could only get to two or three days of cricket a season. It used to give access to a one-day game and a couple of other days cricket of your choice and enabled you to make a contribution to the club, as well as boosting membership figures. It may have been worthy of consideration, but perhaps was and deemed uneconomic. I know from my mailbag that there are a lot of such people out there who might have been willing to pay £20/25 for a distant membership.
The reality is that fans will be convinced to part with their money by signs of improvement, like we saw last season. The telling factor will be who arrives in the overseas role or roles in 2012. I still feel we will see Martin Guptill, but the IPL auction and his potential involvement may well dictate we hear nothing for some time yet.
I have no doubt that many phone calls have been made to agents and player representatives in recent weeks and that they will continue to be made until signatures have been obtained. We may or may not get big names in 2012, but I hope that people realise just how much work goes into getting those all-important autographs.
We booked next year's holidays yesterday, which is almost certainly tempting providence ahead of the announcement of fixtures for 2012. I can now see all too clearly that Yorkshire v Derbyshire at Scarborough will coincide with my being away with the family in late June and early July to coincide with our son's 21st birthday. At the same time, a memorable birthday for him was even more important than a last remaining cricket ambition. The limited availability and competitive price of flights meant that we had to book early, a phrase that always reminds me of the late Fred Pontin's old TV campaigns...
A couple of weeks back I suggested that Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor would be worth a look for a county needing an overseas player for 2012 and his brilliant century against New Zealand took his country close to what would have been a remarkable win. At 25 he is only going to get better and for my money a county will get a good reward for giving him an opportunity when his international commitments allow.
See you soon!