There never seems a more appropriate time than the first day of the season to quote Thomas Boswell’s essay Why Time Begins on Opening Day, which gave his great baseball anthology its title.
“Born to an age where horror has become commonplace, where tragedy has, by its monotonous repetition, become a parody of sorrow,” Boswell wrote in 1984, “we need to fence off a few parks where humans try to be fair, where skill has some hope of reward, where absurdity has a harder time than usual getting a ticket.”
So here we are, tabula rasa, at the start of a new season when the purity of the fixture list, unsullied by results, brings fantasies of possible glory to everyone.
So what do we have?
Essex vs Worcs Notts vs Durham Warwicks vs Derbys Gloucs vs Surrey Leics vs Hants Middx vs Som Lancs vs Sussex Northants vs Kent Yorks vs Glam
We have Nick Hoult at Chelmsford, Tim Wigmore at Lord’s and Scyld Berry at Bristol who will all be contributing. I’ll try to keep abreast of what’s happening there and elsewhere. Should you be there or at any of the other matches, all observations and thoughts will be gratefully received either as a comment on the blog or you can send direct to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glen Chapple says Lancashire are raring to go for new season
Head coach Glen Chapple says Lancashire are “hungry for success and desperate to get going” heading into the new LV Insurance County Championship season.
After the 2020 competition was replaced by the Bob Willis Trophy amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the championship returns today, with a new format.
The first phase sees teams in three groups of six, and Lancashire start their Group Three fixtures by taking on Sussex.
Chapple said: “I’m sure cricketers all over the country are desperate to play now. Obviously last year was frustrating for the players and everyone involved, the supporters alike.
“The pre-season’s gone really well, we’ve had two good games, one at Essex and one here against Derbyshire. The lads are desperate to play competitive cricket and excited about the next few weeks.
“There’s real depth to the squad, there’s good age range. We’re covered in all aspects. I think if we play how we’ve gone so far in pre-season then we’re going to be competitive.”
Lancashire last won the championship 10 years ago, with Chapple captaining.
And when asked how he would compare the squads of then and now, the 47-year-old said: “What I would ask of this squad is to show the same drive and determination that that squad back then showed, and I think they will, I really do.
“On paper, before the season starts, if you look back to what that squad was deemed to be, I would say this one is stronger. What that squad turned into was a machine. By August it was very tough and got used to winning. There’s no point comparing the two.
“Everybody here is hungry for success and desperate to get going.”
The new format sees the top two from each group advance to Division One for the second phase, with the team subsequently finishing top of that crowned champions and then playing the second-placed side in a Bob Willis Trophy final.
Lancashire, who will again be captained by Dane Vilas this season after the South African re-signed as an overseas player, also have Australia’s Jackson Bird in their squad.
The pace bowler will be available for six red-ball matches starting from the contest against Kent that gets under way on April 22.
Asked about another player who will not be involved against Sussex, James Anderson, Chapple said: “He is currently scheduled in to three games out of the first seven, and we liaise with England on everything regarding Jimmy.
“We’ve got to make sure he’s treated in the best way to get the most out of him as far as England are concerned. But the one thing we get from Jimmy is when he plays for us he commits everything to helping us.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure of which fixtures he is going to play yet, but it’s looking like hopefully three games.”
By Phil Medlicott, PA
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