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Eating away over the winter

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Re: Fixtures release date
Posted by: Supporting Middlesex since 1999
Date: 27/11/2018 19:47
I am used to the first few rounds of County Championship matches beginning on a Friday, with the rounds subsequent to the Royal London Cup group stages offering little weekend play, which wouldn't have been the most ideal fixtureslist for people who can only attend at weekends and whose minds are on football at the start of the season or who aren’t keen on attending matches in chilly conditions. However, the 2019 season is even worse, as the fact the RLC group stages begin earlier deprives the season of a few early rounds of Championship matches beginning on a Friday. The lack of weekend matches makes it hard to disagree with those around the country who are considering not buying a membership next season.

In the Championship, we will face Derbyshire, Glamorgan, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Sussex twice each, and Durham, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Worcestershire once each. As I have said, I like the idea of having maximum opportunities to take points off the sides challenging for promotion and to play the sides struggling at the bottom, and I would like to think that this fixturelist hasn’t worked out too badly in that regard. Lancs and Sussex will surely be in the promotion race alongside ourselves and Worcs, while maybe Glam and Leics will end up struggling. I don’t know whether a seeding system was used to produce the fixturelist, or whether it tried to ensure that teams which met once in 2018 will meet twice in 2019.

In the Twenty20 competition, I was correct to anticipate that we will have one home match against Kent, one away match against Glam, and two matches against the other teams in our group.

It is a surprise that Radlett has been awarded a maiden first-class match, and something for which those associated with the Radlett club will certainly be delighted. It is even more of a surprise that it means that we will be hosting two Championship matches at outgrounds without either of them being at Uxbridge. From the team point of view, hopefully Middlesex will find playing at Radlett favourable. From the supporters’ point of view, I don’t know how many people who regularly attend our home matches will go to Radlett, as it is outside the London zonal system. I can’t see Lower Mound attending four days, while the absence of weekend play counts me out.

We will be playing one Twenty20 match and two Championship matches at Lord’s subsequent to the ground staging the second Test of the Ashes, after which demolition of the Compton and Edrich stands is due to begin, so hopefully those attending those matches won’t have much difficulty accessing the ground. The T20 match will be played four days after the final scheduled day of the Test, so the T20 match will probably the last one played before the demolition.

It is a pleasant surprise that none of the Championship matches around the country are scheduled to be day/nighters.

As the match v Oxford MCCU in March is listed on BBC’s website, it seems like the match will have first-class status. About the only doubt I have about whether it will carry this status is that counties sometimes face universities in what are seen as pre-season friendlies and thus carry no first-class status. As long as the match remains 11 v 11 and is played like a professional match, I imagine it will be first-class. Consequently, Sam Robson’s record of scoring the earliest first-class century in the UK will be threatened by this match or any other first-class matches beginning that day. I would strongly advise anyone attending to wrap up warm!

A lot of people who attend T20 matches do so to fill the time while the football season is not on. Therefore, the fact the T20 group stages run later into August than in previous seasons isn’t going to help attendances. I feel pessimistic about the chances of the match v Sussex at Uxbridge on Saturday 24th August drawing a large crowd, unless a couple of the London football teams are inactive that day.

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