Rejoice! County cricket is back! | Jack Marshall's column

In every single year since 2016, the average UK temperature in the week when cricket’s County Championship is due to start has been lower than the week before.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 7:00 am
The wonderful Old Trafford Cricket Ground

This proves that the weather gods are not only cricket fans, but that they have senses of humour, too.

I tell a lie; not *every* year. The one year to buck the meteorological trend was 2020 when cricket, along with everything else, was cancelled due to a once-in-a-century pandemic.

As I say, extremely humorous weather gods.

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The County Championship season started last week and, just in time, the Baltic weather rolled in. The week before? Glorious sunshine and temperatures not just hitting double figures but roaming tentatively into the 20s. Stunning scenes. Cricket weather.

Then came the videos of the assorted counties’ disgruntled pros emerging garbed in an unholy number of jumpers, thick thermal socks, gloves, and just about every other sartorial shield against what was frankly offensively chilly weather.

Durham County Cricket Club posted a video of their hardy lads training in a literal snowstorm. Lancashire, Derbyshire, and Northamptonshire all posted pretty but hardly Barbadian pics of frost-swirled ovals, while Kent’s pre-season slip cordon was all bobble hats and cable-knit sweaters.

When our cricketers begin to thaw out and the weather starts to perk up, I implore you to go down and take in some county cricket. It’s magnificent, deliciously archaic, of a genuinely excellent standard, and one of the most pleasant ways to spend a lazy, warm afternoon.

Some of my fondest sporting memories come from Old Trafford (the cricket ground, that is - I’m not a philistine). From an utterly gripping 2019 Cricket World Cup group match between New Zealand and the West Indies, to countless Lancashire T20 games, it’s always ace.

But one red rose-tinged sporting memory is special: a day spent watching nothing much happen in a county match between Lancashire and Hampshire.

Under blazing skies, we all but had the ground to ourselves, free to wander around the stands with ice-cold pints in hand before ambling through the pavilion breezily, smiling at the ancient members in their suits.

At lunch, the ground staff cordoned off the wicket and allowed us onto the grass for a stroll on hallowed turf. Minutes earlier, Jimmy Anderson had been fielding right *here*, we thought before tucking into a picnic.

It was bliss. Try it out.