THE phoney war of friendlies is ending. On Sunday the real challenge starts when Hampshire visit Gloucestershire for an LV County Championship fixture.
It is, of course, too early for cricket, but points won in arctic April are just as valuable as those accrued in joyous July.
How will our county perform in the four-day game? I offer one word – better.
Runs will not be a problem but wickets may be. Do we have the attack to bowl sides out twice and therefore win games? Do we have four bowlers capable of taking 50 wickets or more in a season?
Not yet, I am afraid but we do have a group of bowlers capable of improving. We should be better served in the spin department with Tom Smith, Jack Taylor and Tom Shrewsbury available for selection instantly.
Miles Hammond will join that quartet when he has completed his academic battles. I hear from John Bracewell that Smith’s batting has come on a great deal and valuable runs are expected from him. That could compensate for the finger injury that will keep wicket keeper Roderick out of the side initially but not too long, I hope.
It is in the Royal London One-Day Cup that I envisage most success. In pre-season friendlies both Glamorgan and Worcester were defeated, the latter quite comprehensively.
Our playing staff are more suited to this competition as we do not have the hard-hitting sloggers that the Nat West T20 demands.
Anyway, we start with a two-point penalty in that competition, following the points deduction for a poor Cheltenham pitch.
There are two off the field matters that are crucial. For the first time ever there is to be a direct election to the executive board. Any member can stand for election and every member can vote. This is exactly what should happen in what is, and must remain, a members club.
I urge all members to read the appropriate material and then act.
Secondly, as ground development comes to a conclusion, parking will be a temporary problem. It can be solved by spectators using both their common sense, and in some cases Bristol bus routes. It should only be a short-term problem. I rejoice that as president I have a reserved parking space!
Whatever happens the main joy of the season will be the companionship that abounds at county cricket.
The hard headed, but good hearted humour of the Hammond Roofers is sometimes misguided, but always a joy. And, of course, we can always look ahead. Last season our U17s won the County Championship. Five of that team have joined our academy so 2020 should be our year!