The critics were poised to have a field day with the earliest-ever start to a season in the County Championship on April 8 and a series of fixtures crowded into April with each side playing three or four games by the end of the month.
“The start to the Championship is going to be decimated by bad weather,” was the cry from these sceptics, but the weather gods mocked their gloomy prognosis as April 2011 turned out to be the hottest in the UK since records began shortly before the Great War.
This prolonged spell of fine weather was produced by a large cell of high pressure – or in met-speak a blocking anticyclone – and, for much of the month, it prevented the normal passage of rain-bearing fronts from crossing the country in the usual direction from west to east.
The net result weather-wise was that in some parts of the country just 10 per cent of the normal rainfall totals were recorded. This followed a dry March when half the average rainfall fell across the country.
From a cricketing point of view, the prolonged spell of fine weather meant that just 10.25 hours of play were lost from a potential total of 696 hours of play in April.
With dry surfaces across the country and plenty of sunshine, the slow bowlers have had a field day, and two members of the left-arm union – Glamorgan’s Dean Cosker and Leicestershire’s Claude Henderson – have bowled the most number of balls so far in first-class cricket this summer.
With the forecasters already predicting plenty more fine weather, indeed, the ‘twirlymen’ are set for a long, hot and busy summer of toil.