Just after 3pm on Saturday March 31, Sam Robson wrote a name for himself in the cricketing record books with the earliest-ever first-class hundred in the UK, and the first in the month of March, as he made a century on the opening day of the contest between Middlesex and Durham MCCU at Merchant Taylor’s School.
When the ECB published the first-class fixtures last November, a few eyebrows were raised about the feasibility of starting the domestic season March on 31. But Robson, the 22-year-old Middlesex batsman, is not complaining.
Moreover, it has proved to be a stroke of great foresight as a cell of high pressure, known by meteorologists as a blocking anticyclone, established itself over the country from mid-March. The first sporting event to be affected was the Cheltenham Festival of National Hunt racing, which had balmy conditions and faster conditions than normal for many of the hurdle races and steeplechases.
The glorious Spring weather then benefitted the county cricketers whose clubs had opted to remain in the UK rather than head abroad, with various pre-season matches taking place under clear blue skies and above average temperatures, starting with the two-day contest between Glamorgan and Somerset at Taunton on March 19-20 which resulted in a comfortable ten-wicket win for the Welsh county.
The last weekend of March, and the start of British Summer Time saw the UK enjoy temperatures of up to fifteen degrees warmer than usual, with many resorts having higher temperatures than Barcelona, Nice and Majorca.
If these meteorological conditions persist, indeed, and the warm dry spell continues, the large block of County Championship fixtures scheduled for April could be largely unaffected by rain or bad light, thereby aiding the chances of a batsman achieving cricket’s version of the Holy Grail, and scoring 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May.