And about time too! The sight of a sun-drenched Kia Oval outfield yesterday evening was truly a pleasure to behold, lowering the blood pressure and reminding Yates that it won’t be long before the County Championship starts. Ah, the County Championship. Where cricketers from England and all over the world have started, continued and completed their cricketing education, many going on to perform with honours and records at the highest level.
You know, the one that’s supposedly watched by a few men and their dogs.
There’s a lot to like in the County Championship. It is an arena of education for both player and spectator, where each can learn something about themselves, the game and maybe about life in general. Cricket has much to teach us, whatever our age and stage in life. If you haven’t read George Dobell’s excellent piece We Underestimate County Cricket At Our Peril then please do. The County Championship is the bedrock of our game. It doesn’t need deriding or buggering about with (do you hear me David Morgan?), it needs supporting.
Please go and watch some County Championship games this season. Last season’s climax was wonderful for Surrey supporters. Who knows, this season could have such finishes ahead for your teams.
Expectations For This Season
I’d like to see some strong performances from Surrey in Division 1 of the County Championship this year. As Chris Adams and Alec Stewart reminded us at the Surrey CCC AGM last night, this is still a young team. They will have match winning moments and moments where that doesn’t quite happen. But the talent is there for sure. Staying in Division 1 would be nice, being in the top four would be nicer still. The difference in balls may well be important. Smutty jokes aside, the Duke ball doesn’t do as much as the Tiflex ball, as Ravi Bopara famously tweeted last season.
The CB40 and FLT20 tournaments will be challenging again. Surrey are defending CB40 champions but that doesn’t mean there are many easy games out there. Competition will be hard in both tournaments. I’d like to see at least semi-final places for Surrey.
The fight to get out of Division 2 may well be as tough and close as it was last season. Gut reactions are that there will be three teams fighting for promotion: Northants, Kent and Yorkshire. President Boycott may well have plenty to say, as well as Colin Graves. Just as it was last season, the promotion battle could be decided by a shrewd piece of business by a county coach.
Lancashire and Warwickshire are favourites for the Championship and rightly so. Much as Yates feels for the county of his birth, gut reaction says the Red Rose county could well make it two in a row. Nothing to say on who will be fighting the drop this season because Yorkshire would never have entered Yates’ thoughts as relegation candidates.
Sentimental things for this season: Yates would love to see Somerset win something this year. Hopefully not at Surrey’s expense though 🙂 More centuries for Mark Ramprakash, better consistency from the dynamite of Jason Roy and Tom Maynard and the return to full fitness and finger breaking bounce of the mighty Chris Tremlett.
Yates wishes all counties and their fans a good season. Play hard and play fair. And please, don’t chase the wide ones 🙂