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Cook wisely sits out season opener

The thought of facing Jimmy Anderson in a County Championship game, or any game in any format for that matter, at the start of April is riddled with utter trepidation. So does it come as a surprise that Alastair Cook has decided to sidestep that particular duel in order to recover from a hip problem that has been troubling him for around a month ?

Of course I'm not suggesting for one minute that Cook has sat this game out for fear of becoming one of many early season batsmen to be completely perplexed by the bananas inevitably being thrown down by England's premier swing bowler. Although it is such a shame that we have to miss out on what would be a titanic battle between two masters of their art doing battle in the environment of a County Championship opener. Talk about a welcome return for county cricket.

It was an unfair contest to expect Cambridge's batsmen, however talented, cope with the examination bestowed upon them from Anderson, who returned match figures of 16-7…

Bopara to focus on Test spot

It's refreshing to hear a player shun the vast sums of money on offer in the IPL to focus on Test cricket, or at least to try and gain position in the Test side.

Ravi Bopara has gone the way that Eoin Morgan may look back and wish he had, by searching for early County Championship form rather than financial lure of the IPL.  Morgan is the player that is probably in pole position to replace Paul Collingwood in the Test side after being the spare batsman in the recent Ashes series, yet his decision to play T20 cricket in the early months of the domestic season may affect the selectors thoughts when the squad for the first Test of the summer against Sri Lanka is made sometime in the middle of May.

I personally am perplexed by Morgan's decision, barring the obvious financial advantages, perhaps that is a good enough reason. It is indeed a lot of money (he was signed for Kolkata Knight Riders for $350,000), but surely it goes against all cricketing logic for his own career. Morgan…

More pink ball and floodlights!

We are still in March yet the traditional County season opener has already concluded, once again the more reliable weather in Abu Dhabi was the selected venue as further trials were carried out with the use of a pink ball and day/night first-class cricket.

Crowds are generally sparse for the County Championship so any options that are being explored to swell the numbers through the gate for what is essentially a very good standard of domestic cricket and fiercely competitive, can only be worthwhile experiments.

Rahul Dravid is certainly keen for more trials in differing conditions and nations with the pink ball. He clearly had no problems in sighting the ball as he stroked his way to 106 runs in the MCC's second innings. Perhaps more importantly than his runs is the fact he is a member of the World Cricket Committee and give offer first-hand advice to the rest of the committee of how they can take these experiments forward and make this type of cricket a very viable option.

The g…

Repercussions of the IPL in England

Following the conclusion of the Indian Premier League auction at the weekend, what impact, in terms of disruption to the counties, will it have on the start of the domestic campaign in England ?

The IPL gets underway on the same day as the County Championship season kicks off (April 8), and while some counties will be hampered by the absence of some of their finest talents for a substantial length of time, the impact could indeed have been more severe. There were several English and English based players that were not selected for any of the franchises.

The prolonged contractual discussions between Essex and Ravi Bopara seemed to focus around the details of IPL payments, a potential compensation percentage for him being allowed to play in the tournament, which all proved unnecessary as Bopara was not picked up by any of the franchises. New team-mate Owais Shah will be absent from the Essex line-up for the duration his franchise, Kochi, are in the competition, as will all-rounder Rya…

County Players Winter Form - Part Two

Following on from our look at the Australian domestic season we move on to South Africa to investigate the form of the players we expect to see in domestic cricket in England in 2011.

Before we get to the South African players that will be appearing in the County Championship, there have been three English players over there performing for two of the franchises. Kevin Pietersen linked up with the Nashua Dolphins ahead of the Ashes series in an attempt to find some form, but he only made 36 runs in his first innings and bagged a duck in his second game. Yet it was his work on the training ground with his old friend and coach Graham Ford that seems to have rekindled glimpses of his old form, judging by his recent performance in Adelaide.

Ravi Bopara followed on from Pietersen at the Dolphins when he headed off to Australia. He has made only one SuperSport Series appearance so far against the Lions where he batted at number four. He made two starts but was unable to build upon them and r…

County Players Winter Form - Part One

This is the first piece in this blog examining how various players that we can expect to see in the County Championship next season are faring in their winter seasons wherever that may be. It may be overseas players that will be heading to England in 2011, or English players that are honing their skills abroad.

So first up let's have a look at what's happening in Australia. Well, we know there are very few overseas players invited to play Sheffield Shield cricket over there, although we have Sajid Mahmood and Michael Lumb heading over there to take part in the T20 competition - The KFC Twenty20 Big Bash. So let's have a look at four players, all from the Victoria Bushrangers, that will be in England next season.

Let's begin by having a look at their star performer in the Sheffield Shield, Leicestershire's all-rounder Andrew McDonald, who has begun the season in scintillating fashion.

McDonald smashed 163 at the WACA against Western Australia off only 116 balls, …

Will Shreck remain at the Bridge?

Speculation continues to surround the future of Nottinghamshire pace bowler Charlie Shreck.

There is an offer on the table from Notts to secure the services of Shreck for the near future, but whether he is simply mulling over the deal or assessing his options with regards a move to another county, it's not clear.

Somerset and Durham are the two clubs that have shown interest in Shreck, but the interest may have waned from Somerset as they have recently acquired the Gloucestershire duo, Steven Kirby and Gemaal Hussain.

Durham also boast a powerful seam attack with Steve Harmison, Liam Plunkett, Callum Thorpe, Mitch Claydon and Charlie Rushworth, that's without mentioning the injured Graham Onions. They were left short on options due to several injuries last season so may wish to add to the depth of the squad should a similar situation arise in the future.

However, Notts coach Mick Newell is still confident Shreck will further his stay at Trent Bridge. Newell has already los…