The season is fast approaching and cricketers around the country are getting ready for a new season with the optimism that comes from some solid net sessions and perhaps some new gear to give them an extra percent here and there.
I have sadly got used to the idea of not playing now and it is almost three years since I last picked up a bat in anger, Yet I can still cast my mind back to the days of my youth, such a memory being dragged to the surface by an old picture sent to me by a school pal last week.
It was 1976, a summer of searing heat and soaring temperatures, when I combined A levels with playing cricket for my school and for a local club. Goodness knows how I fitted it all in, to be honest, but I did and the photo, of the Staff v School match that summer, shows a then tonsorially impressive me with my team mates on another glorious day in a summer that no one wanted to end.
The whole school watched the game from start to finish. No classes, just a chance to watch cricket or, if that was of no interest, chat to pals and eat ice creams. I still recall batting for some time and being in at the end against a very good staff side, managing to hold out for the draw with a tail-end batsman for company. There was even some gentle sledging from the close fielders with Bill, my Maths teacher who was a very good all-rounder, telling me as the last over was about to commence that I should entertain the crowd.
I ignored him, because he always did that and his probing medium-fast seam usually saw the staff side triumph. Not that year, and at over end, when I had survived the closest field I had ever experienced, he walked up to me, smiled and shook my hand.
'Well done son', he said. 'Rule number one...NEVER listen to the opposition'.
He passed away a few years back, but as a player and a man, he played a key role in my cricketing and personal development. And I never did get the punishment exercises and extra work that was threatened after every ball of that last over...
On a different tack, this weekend the blog has gone past the 1.25 million views mark. I never cease to be amazed at how it has taken off and thank you all for your continued support. Please keep your comments and emails coming and I look forward to more exchanges in the coming months.
Changing tack again, you have just under a couple of weeks until the first game and to register for the Fantasy League. If you have any problems in registering, do please let me know. Ten teams are so far registered and thanks to all who have got involved.
8031395 is the PIN to access the league, and it is only £8 for one team, with discounts for more.
Finally today, I read earlier this week that Chris Read has informed Nottinghamshire this season will be his last.
Whoever steps into those shoes has a mighty big job on their hands, because for me he has been the best wicket-keeper/batsman in the country for years. A man who always gets runs when most needed, very composed and tidy behind the stumps, plenty of less talented players have had long international careers, but England's loss has been Nottinghamshire's gain.
Given his county's track record of sniffing around the best young talent of their neighbours, it makes it all the more important that we look after Harvey Hosein. He has to perform and justify selection, of course, but the reality is that if a county with a reputation for throwing around money comes looking, it is likely to make a Godfather-style offer than cannot be refused.
Let's just hope that Tom Moores develops rapidly this summer and keeps the wolf from the door...
With that, adieu for now.
I'm off to correct a Cricinfo article, that labels Daryn Smit a Kolpak signing...