“The first ball of the season to be bowled by Simon Jones,” said an announcement at the Rose Bowl. I’m not sure what was more heartening, that we were about to see the first ball of the season or that Jones was fit to bowl it.
Or was it the sky, blue and cloudless?
Or the line of cars crawling up Marshall Drive towards the ground’s car park this morning. There are around 200 cars around the rim of the ground opposite the pavilion – perhaps not as pleasing on the eye as the marquee canopy above the pavilion which characterises the Rose Bowl, but certainly a rousing confirmation of interest.
Or the muttering crowd, fiddling with pencils and scorecards.
Or Michael di Venuto, driving the young left-arm spinner Danny Briggs through cover.
Or Danny Briggs, recovering from the early assault to take two Durham wickets.
Or Dominic Cork, unable to get back to his mark without a word to the batsman on strike. (Perhaps that’s been less of a highlight.)
Or the sound of a wicket, heard from outside the ground: a collective ‘oooh’ followed swiftly by considerable applause that makes you wonder if there might be a Test match going on. (This, of course, is the season when the Rose Bowl will host its first Test – the third in the series between England and Sri Lanka in June).
Or the cries of ‘hello!’ as spectators re-acquaint themselves with one another, companionship on hold through the off-season.
Perhaps it’s all of these things (Cork aside), the combination of which tells you the season is upon us and the Championship is back.
Benj Moorehead is the editorial assistant of The Wisden Cricketer.