Posted by Tony Hutton
Hopefully what seems to have been a very long winter, particularly on the weather front, but also in terms of cricketing controversies, appears to be coming to an end. Yesterday's snow is fast disappearing here in Yorkshire and despite endless pictures of cricket grounds under snow all over the country the new season is almost upon us.
Admittedly as John Winn has pointed out, some pre-season county games have already been postponed or venues changed, but that is perhaps par for the course with these games often being treated as part of cricket's secret agenda, with very little if any publicity. Come what may we will be making our way to the Midlands (often sodden and unkind as someone once wrote) next week with high hopes of seeing cricket of some description somewhere.
We are already aware that the three day game between Worcestershire and Leeds/Bradford MCCU on Easter Sunday has been moved from the County Ground to Worcester Royal Grammar School, last visited some twenty years or so ago for a 2nd XI game. Knowledge of what facilities are available seems unknown so far.
However, cricket has been going on unabated around the world during the last few days and I am indebted to our Paris correspondent (resting between jobs) for pointing me in the direction of Sky Sports coverage of Zimbabwe v West Indies today in The World Cup qualifying tournament. Good to see a big crowd enjoying the occasion and the home side having recently dismissed danger man Gayle might be in with a chance. Saw a bit of Ireland v Scotland in the same competition yesterday, what a pity only two teams will qualify.
Then again we have had the England Lions in West Indies and now we have games between the North and South which seem to stretch the geographical knowledge of the ECB to almost breaking point.
They have always seemed to struggle with neighbouring counties having fixtures at home simultaneously but the team selected for the North, which I always think of as north of the Trent, seems to take in most of the Midlands as well. Not to worry several young men will no doubt do well and may be on the road to untold riches in the game of the future. Nice to see Mr Gubbins of Middlesex, a graduate of Leeds/Bradford MCCU, get a century.
Yorkshire have been enjoying themselves on a pre-season tour of South Africa with plenty of runs being scored. Centuries for Harry Brook, Alex Lees (two), Jack Leaning, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and more unusually Jack Brooks, just to show his century at Old Trafford last year was not a flash in the pan. Also in South Africa are Leeds/Bradford MCCU with a new squad of twenty two players, details on their website, together with fixtures.
Another Yorkshire century maker this week was Joe Root in one of these ridiculous warm up games for the Test series in New Zealand. Meanwhile Kohler-Cadmore is off to Pakistan to play in the local T20 competition. Adil Rashid of course is going nowhere following his decision to abandon red ball cricket, but one can hardly blame him given the treatment he has received while on international duty. Something that does not appear to have been mentioned in all the press controversy is the fact that he has been given a benefit by Yorkshire in this coming season.
With hard line members calling for him to be sacked one wonders whether the benefit will in fact take place. A pity if it doesn't as it recognises the service he has already given the county over many years. All the winter's controversies have washed over me somehow, I could not summon up the energy to comment on them as with the latest on Mr Graves' position. We traditionalists have almost given up the ghost as far as county championship cricket is concerned, so let's just get on with it and enjoy it while we can.
Amazingly have just this minute received an e-mail to say that Warwickshire's three day friendly with Somerset is still on for Monday next March 26th. Let's hope it stays fine!