So, the England & Wales Cricket Board have released the fixtures for 2017; a moment we all await with barely contained angst by the time November arrives.
We can all start planning our year properly around the cricket now, can’t we?
Here are a few matches I’ve picked out to circle in the diary…
SEASON-OPENER – Sunday April 2-4
Yorkshire’s County Championship season gets underway at home against Hampshire on Friday April 7.
In fact, they play the South coast outfit twice in first-class cricket in the first 17 days of the season in one the calendar quirks.
But, for me at least, the actual start of the season is when Yorkshire County Cricket Club take to the field for the very first time and that will be on Sunday April 2 against Leeds Bradford MCCU.
The students play Kent (away), Yorkshire (Headingley) then finish with Worcestershire at Weetwood on 7-9 April.
A quick grumble you may or may not agree with. Why is the Yorkshire vs Leeds Bradford MCCU game not given first-class status? Surely all or none of the MCCU fixtures makes most sense?
Reservations aside, there’s a chance to spot clues of Yorkshire’s preferred lineup and assess who has the bit between their teeth and who still has winter rust.
Leeds Bradford MCCU were unbeaten against all three county opposition in 2016 and there’s normally a few lads in their ranks with links to the county staff or Yorkshire Academy.
ROSES CUP CRICKET – Monday 1 May
This will be the opening skirmishes between Yorkshire & Lancashire in 2017 and comes in the Royal London One-Day Cup; that piece of the fixtures puzzle that may be most under threat from the proposed city-based T20 additional competition.
It is also part of a glut of cup games that sees Yorkshire play five games in nine days that will require some careful squad rotation from Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale.
Where will the county’s priorities lie? The first fortnight in May is entirely dedicated to fifty-over cricket with only the trip to Emirates Old Trafford in the County Championship book-ending it to think about another format.
ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL – ENGLAND VS SOUTH AFRICA – Wednesday 24 May
The reshuffle to the fixtures see Yorkshire hosting a one-day international in May rather than the usual Test match – which instead starts on Friday 25 August against West Indies.
South Africa are the opposition for the ODI so you’d expect a sellout for what is always a popular day out at Headingley.
Get ready for beer snakes and minions….
FLOODLIT CHAMPIONSHIP CRICKET – Monday June 26 – Thursday June 29
Yorkshire welcome Surrey to Headingley for a historic fixture as this round of County Championship games are allocated as floodlit fixtures that begin at 2pm.
The intention is to experiment, add a bit of intrigue and allow England’s Test players an opportunity with the pink ball in county cricket ahead of the country’s first-ever floodlit Test match – against West Indies in August.
Will cricket fans be curious enough to pour in after work, as they do with Twenty20?
The allure of seeing Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow as the sun sets, coupled with being part of a new concept should pack the crowds in.
SCARBOROUGH FESTIVAL – Sunday 6 August – Wednesday 9 August
Scarborough Cricket Club will have already welcomed Somerset (3-6 July) before the second County Championship game of the year at North Marine Road as part of a revamped schedule.
Two one-day county matches have bitten the dust on the coast as a concession to less home games for Yorkshire in the Specsavers County Championship – but after consultation with Yorkshire County Cricket Club members, both four-day games were retained at Scarborough.
I tend to go over for a day, keeping a beady eye on the forecast and it never disappoints, if the weather holds.
Now that the fixtures are known, hoteliers and B&B owners across the town will have their phones ringing off the hook.
Fri 25 – Tues 29 August – ENGLAND vs WEST INDIES
A Headingley Test match in August that falls over a weekend is a better sell but will it convince the punters to come?
A bit of trivia for you. The last time the West Indies played at Headingley in August was in 2000 when a certain Michael Vaughan won man of the match and the home side triumphed by an innings and 39 runs.
Andy Caddick’s four wickets in five balls as West Indies were shot out for 61 in two hours was a lifetime ago but the class of 2017 will much depend on convincing their best islanders to pull on the Test shirt.
Other games that will get the party started include the Roses NatWest T20 Blast game on Friday 11 August at Headingley and the second edition of the Womens Kia Super League featuring Yorkshire Diamonds (fixtures not yet out).
Of course, there’s a glut of club, league and other games across Yorkshire – haven’t forgotten about those – Cricket Yorkshire will be showcasing those as the picture becomes a bit clearer next year.
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