The wind is tearing the blossom from the trees and depositing it on the dirty wet earth. Men and women in thick winter coats turn their pallid faces to the skies, scrutinising the clouds for tip offs of impending rain showers. Firewood is gathered. Thermostats are turned up. It is time for the county cricket season.
The County Championship starts with six-ninths of a bang on Sunday with just three first division matches. A table comprising nine sides often only finds balance before and after the season, but even so this seems a strange way to start; not so much breaking the door down as gently pushing it open only to find that the cat’s somehow pulled up the carpet and the door’s now wedged.
So sliding through the narrow gap, what do we find on the other side? Durham v Somerset; Hampshire v Warwickshire; and Nottinghamshire v Surrey.
Is it worth looking to last season’s finishing positions to deduce which might prove to be the most meaningful fixtures? Counties seem to bounce up and down almost at random. Sussex were third in 2014 and in 2015 they were relegated. Middlesex narrowly avoided the drop in 2014 and were runners-up last year. The constant has been Yorkshire, who won in both years and were second the year before. As you’ll no doubt notice, Yorkshire aren’t playing.
The story is yet to unfold, you could argue. Weather permitting, let it do so.