The county season will get underway earlier than ever in 2012, with the traditional Champion County curtain-raiser scheduled to begin on 27th March in Abu Dhabi, and the first of the university fixtures set to kick off on 31st March.
The opening round of LV= County Championship matches start on 5th April, while the first Clydesdale Bank 40 match is on 4th May. The reduced ten-game Friends Life t20 has its opening fixture on 12th June with Finals day on 25th August in Cardiff.
The end of the season once again has its customary premature and rushed end at Lord’s on 15th September. The last round of the Championship is scheduled to just a day earlier, meaning that should we get a situation like in 2011 year with Somerset involved in the latter stages of both competitions then they will have no time to prepare for the change in format and would have a mad overnight dash from Taunton to London on 14th September.
The reduction in Twenty20 cricket for 2012, while welcome from a purely cricketing point of view, has meant that outgrounds have suffered, with Whitgift School in Croydon, Arundel and Kings School in Gloucester all losing fixtures.
In other news, the MCC confirmed yesterday that the first two matches that all six of the universities play in 2012 will count as first-class, with Cardiff and Leeds/Bradford joining the existing quartet of Durham, Cambridge, Oxford and Loughborough in being given that honour.
© Cricket World 2011