26th May: Chennai S. Kings v Mumbai I, 14:30 GMT
24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
If you aren't a fan of Twenty20 cricket, then may I suggest you go into hibernation for the next month or so. Make sure you emerge in July but then take off again as the Champions League gets underway in October. Twenty20 is certainly the flavour of the month at the moment, with the Indian Premier League, the ECB Twenty20 Cup, the RBS Cup in Pakistan and let's not forget the ICC World Twenty20 all jostling for headlines and column inches at present.
Most innovative of them is of course the IPL, which this year introduced us to 'strategy breaks' which came around every ten overs. My colleague Jim White pronounced the theory that no longer is this Twenty20, but 'ten-ten-ten-ten' as the match is neatly split into four groups of ten overs. How long before we have breaks every five overs - five-five-five-five-five-five-five-five anyone?
Onto the action itself, and given a gruelling 59-match schedule, there was plenty of it, culminating in a stunning turnaround from 2008 with the bottom two sides competing for the big prize. The Deccan Chargers, last in 2008 and now led by Adam Gilchrist, beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore by six runs. Incidentally, the Challengers also changed their captain as first Kevin Pietersen and then Anil Kumble took over from Rahul Dravid.
The Kolkata Knight Riders also changed captain - at one point they were planning to change captains for each match, or so it seemed but a fat lot of good that did them. Brendon McCullum is fine player but leading this particular side proved a task too far for the New Zealander. The final itself lived up to its billing, going right down to the wire with RP Singh delivering a brilliant final over. He has earnt his place in the Indian squad for the World Twenty20 and they have a squad to be in awe of, given how many top performers in the IPL they are able to call on.
And yet, the IPL 2009 will go down in my eyes as the tournament which raised the stock of the part-time spinner. Yuvraj Singh (twice) and Rohit Sharma took hat-tricks and at times Suresh Raina did a good job under pressure and even Kevin Pietersen saw his occasional off breaks capture vital wickets. How Twenty20 has changed from a game that was originally thought to be a spinner's graveyard. Not any more - Chennai Super Kings had great success with three spinners bowling 12 overs in all, proving that when the wickets take turn, it is a lethal tactic.
It remains to be seen whether three-pronged spin attacks will bring success in England, and it has to be said that Lord's, The Oval and Trent Bridge are hardly the three most spin-friendly grounds in the country. Now if only India could play at Old Trafford or Northampton, then they could probably do without pace at all. I still think they will do quite nicely, however, and can not rule out a successful defence of their title.
The ECB Twenty20 Cup will provide us with some clues as to how those three pitches are playing and whether Kent captain Rob Key can inspire his side to a third successive finals day. They have taken over Leicestershire's mantle as the form team in Twenty20 in England and they will be desperate to earn themselves a shot at Champions League glory.
I say Champions League, but it should really be called the Champions, runners-up and third-placed if you're lucky League as the tournament has now been expanded to include 12 teams; three from the IPL, two each from Australia, England and South Africa and one from New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. No place for Bangladesh, Pakistan or Zimbabwe sides, which is unfortunate, to say the least but one hopes that in the future this will change - the very minimum they deserve is some sort of qualification tournament - perhaps with the second/third placed teams playing the champions from those three nations?
That brings me neatly onto the RBS Cup in Pakistan, which is done and dusted in a week. That sounds ideal, although it has been brought about by the scheduling - there is no time for much more and it is ideally placed just ahead of the global tournament to give their players good preparation.
To close, I shall follow Chetan Narula's lead and finish with a best XI from the Indian Premier League. Mine, however, is slighty different - this is my XI of players to watch out for in the future, a team of players who have impressed in this IPL and could go on to follow in the footsteps of Raina, Manpreet Gony and Shaun Marsh by being called up after impressive IPL performances:
JP's 'IPL XI For The Future':
Manish Pandey (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Naman Ojha (Rajasthan Royals, wicket-keeper)
T. Suman (Deccan Chargers)
Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore, captain)
Graham Napier (Mumbai Indians)
Ravi Jadeja (Rajasthan Royals)
Rajat Bhatia (Delhi Daredevils)
Pradeep Sangwan (Delhi Daredevils)
Shadab Jakati (Chennai Super Kings)
Harmeet Singh (Deccan Chargers)
Yusuf Abdulla (Kings XI Punjab)
As ever, I welcome your views, and you can leave a message in the form below with your team of the tournament. And with plans afoot for a second IPL to be held from next year - are we in danger of overdoing Twenty20?
© Cricket World 2009
John Pennington, the 'voice' of Cricket World® Radio, writes a weekly column for CricketWorld.com which appears at the start of the week.