Thursday, November 19, 2009

2010 Fixtures Released

The fixture list for the 2010 season has been released, and reveals some key changes to the cricketing calender.

Gloucestershire will begin their 2010 season with a County Championship match against Northamptonshire on Thursday 15th April at Nevil Road and the new ECB 40 League will be played out across the whole season with a break for the new Friends Provident Twenty20 competition, which begins on Friday 4th June.

A key change to the County Championship matches is the shift to midweek cricket: many of the games are Monday or Tuesday starts. This was the wish of many clubs who cited Saturday's as a non-cricket watching day due to the numerical strength of club cricket. Although a curious insertion of a Saturday evening fixture - T20 v Hampshire at Bristol - will be an interesting experiment.

The Saturday fixture will be part of the new Friends Provident T20 that will be played out over a much larger period - from the opening fixture at Sophia Gardens on Friday 4th June until Sunday 18th July when Surrey are the visitors to Nevil Road; respite is found in two County Championship matches that break-up the barren six-week period of the shortest format.

The fixtures show potential for the Gloucester festival to be renewed - with two Twenty20 matches highlighted as "TBC"; a return to Gloucester is subject to a sponsorship deal being arranged. This blog sincerely hopes a deal can be arranged to secure cricket back to the heart of the county.

The Shire will visit far fewer outgrounds next season: Arundel for a championship match and Uxbridge for a T20 are the only temporary away venues scheduled. This blog is most pleased that Lord's is back on the agenda, although disappointed at consecutive trips to the capital for back-to-back championship matches.

The Cheltenham festival is set for a slightly reduced format; two championship matches are flanked by two 40-over games from Thursday 29th July until Sunday 8th August. The Thursday start is very curious; one would have thought beginning on a Friday would have kickstarted the festival well, and is bound to be a more attractive day for commercial sales and supporters to take a day off work. This becomes all the more strange as Tuesday 3rd August is a blank day - the whole schedule could therefore be moved along a day to provide a Friday start.

The season will finish a week earlier than last year in order to accommodate the T20 champions league - a shame that the ECB have bowed to India's insistence once more, but allows for the final of the ECB 40 League to provide a grand finale to the season.

The fixture list appears nicely balanced; the ECB 40 League has been given an opportunity to develop across the course of the season and should provide a good competition, although this blog advocates for a quarter-final stage also. The longer format, and a Lord's final - under floodlights for the first time, is rightly back at the pinnacle of one-day cricket.

Key Fixtures
OPENING MATCH: Thursday 15 April v Northamptonshire, Bristol, LVCC
FIRST ONE-DAY MATCH: Sunday 25 April v Derbyshire, Bristol, 40L
POTENTIAL GLOUCESTER FESTIVAL: Friday 11th June & Sunday 13th June, T20
LOCAL DERBYS: Friday 18 June v Somerset, Taunton, T20
Friday 16 July v Somerset, Bristol, T20
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: Thursday 29th July - Sunday 8th August
FINAL MATCH: Monday 13th September v Surrey, Bristol, LVCC

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