The English “Summer” is upon us.
This morning, at the County Ground in Hove, the West Indians played Sussex in the first warm-up match of the tour. It’s May the 6th, the football season is still very much happening, and the weather is cold, damp, and overcast.
Like I said: “Summer”.
Another instance of there being too much cricket. The “summer” should start in June, when the weather is hot and the skies are high. When the football cup finals are a distance memory, not still fighting for column space on the back pages. But, hey, it’s here now, so why not enjoy it?
I enjoy the English summer for the same reason I enjoy tours in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the West Indies: the matches make sense to me time-zone-wise.
The tests start at 5am local time, the ODIs at 5:45am (the day-nighters at 9am), and the T20s start at 9am-ish, as well.
Plus, the grounds in England are normally at capacity for the tests, which will be a welcome change from the empty terraces in the UAE, the West Indies…etc. Big crowds at lovely venues just make for a better viewing experience; even on my computer.
And what are we going to see this summer?
First up, the rejuvenated West Indies. While this won’t be the most thrilling series, as our friends from the Caribbean are of course no where near the quality of the West Indian teams of the past that gave England fits, they are far better then they were during their last visit.
Also, the big news: Chris Gayle is back for the ODIs and the t20. He should be enough to make the one-dayers competitive and fun for the neutrals.
But before the one-dayers, we will be treated to three tests: May 17-21 at Lord’s, May 25-29 at Trent Bridge, and June 7-11 at Edgbaston. Those are followed by three ODIs: June 16 at the Rose Bowl, June 19 at the Oval, and June 22 in Headingly. And the tour wraps up with single t20 at Trent Bridge.
And then Australia comes to town for one ODI against Ireland (that should be fun) and five ODIs against England. No tests, unfortunately, but I am actually not all that bummed about that. The ODIs should be competitive and entertaining, and we have the Ashes to look forward to in 2013.
I am surprised that the Australian and English cricket boards didn’t schedule at least one t20, with the t20 World Cup coming up this fall. But, hey, cricket boards making questionable scheduling decisions is par for the course.
The ODI against Ireland is on June 23 in Belfast, the first ODI against England on June 29 at Lord’s, the second on July 1 at the Oval, the third on July 4 at Edgbaston, the fourth on July 7 at the Riverside Ground (Durham’s home ground), and the fifth on July 10 at Old Trafford.
And then: the series that is making cricket fans the world over salivate in anticipation, as South Africa comes to down for three tests (boooooo), five ODIs, and three t20s. The number one test nation versus the number two test nation. And while it is really unfortunate that they are only playing three tests and that the second test is going to be played in the long shadows of the Olympics in London, it should be a great series.
Those t20s in particular will be great fun, as both teams get in shape for the World Cup.
The first test at the Oval, from July 19-23; the second at Headingley, from August 2-6; and the third at Lord’s, from August 16-20.
All three should be just lovely. the Oval in July, Leeds during the Olympics as London parties, and finally Lord’s to close it all out and possibly decide the world number one.
The ODIs are at Sophia Gardens (Cardiff), the Rose Bowl, the Oval, Lord’s, and Trent Bridge on August 22, 24, 28, September 2 and 5, respectively. The t20s are back in Durham, back at old Trafford, and back at Edgbaston on September 8, 10, and 12.
And that’s it, that’s the English summer. From the coin toss on May 17 at Lord’s to the final ball in Manchester on September 12. Four months, 22 matches, 46 total days of cricket (counting the Ireland match and if each test goes the distance).
The more I read and write about it, the more excited I get.
It should be a wonderful summer of sport: the Euros, the Olympics, and an all-round entertaining English cricketing summer.
And, considering I am able to work from home, and considering all three events are available to watch here in the states on ESPN3, over the air TV, and Willow, respectively, I hope to be able to watch big chunks of all three. Looking forward to it all.