The English county fixtures for the 2012 season were revealed yesterday, hot on the heels of David Morgan’s initial review of the county structure.
Well, they were announced a day earlier by one county and a local newspaper actually, whilst still under a '’strict embargo’’ which was in place presumably to heighten the tension, or at least make the relevant authorities feel more important about their annual groundbreaking announcement.
So, where do we start?
We start on the April 5th, actually, for the earliest ever kick-off to a Championship season.
Meanwhile, the England national side will be in the middle of a Test match against Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka.
Make of that what you will, and there are one or two further oddities instantly spotted in the schedule ahead of the next load of changes in 2014.
Division Two new boys Yorkshire, for instance, are without a single home Championship fixture between the start of June and the middle of August.
That would be nearly all of what is technically known as 'summer', then, and it's not as if there aren't games to be played as the Tykes face FIVE consecutive Championship away matches in that time.
Newly-promoted Surrey will have played five of their eight home Championship games before May is over, leaving any slow-starting members wondering what the unrelenting floodlights, pyjamas and pop music of the One Day and Twenty20 scene is about come June.
The domestic One Day final, once a focal-point of the season, is hidden away at the fag-end of the campaign on September 15th again.
How the 2012 final will capture the public imagination more than Surrey’s triumph over Somerset at a less than half-full Lord’s in the cold and rain of this autumn is anyone’s guess.
While we’re talking finals, the perenially successful Twenty20 finals day is on August 25th at the SWALEC Stadium. That’s Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens to cricket fans like you and I.
Glamorgan - or the Welsh Dragons, as they now like to be known of a weekend - clearly won a bid to host the event fair and square, but is playing a celebrated finals day in Wales the best way of encouraging people from every cricketing corner through the turnstiles?
With Morgan’s plans being fleshed out in the New Year, there is an opportunity for scheduling issues in the county game to be sorted.
For this to happen, though, decision-makers need to remove the dollar signs from their eyes and refocus on what is good for the long-term future of the game.
Not easy, particularly when it is undeniable that money from satellite TV has gone a long way to improving domestic and international cricket in England.
Keeping Sky happy is seemingly a necessary evil at the moment, as we saw with the laughably scheduled ‘contractual obligation T20 series’ against the West Indies recently.
Chasing the pot of gold also led to a ridiculous number of domestic Twenty20 games last summer that became meaningless for the average punter, just because more matches were naively presumed to equal more paying customers.
It was overkill, people became bored and didn’t turn up, and we are happily down to a more breathable ten group games for 2012.
A word of warning, though, as Morgan’s initial report recommends increasing the figure to 14 in 2014 to leave us facing the same potential for saturation as before.
Aside from the international calendar to negotiate, there is next summer the added distraction of the European Football Championships involving England and the small matter of the Olympics and Paralympics coming to Britain, both inevitably dominating media coverage and the public interest.
It’s not easy to get scheduling right and it’s impossible to please every county, but it would be so much better if some ostensibly simple steps were taken to improve the accessibility and, therefore, the profitability of domestic cricket.
For what it’s worth, I believe the 2012 fixture list is an overall improvement on the season just gone.
Just brace yourselves for Morgan’s recommendations in January.