Eight degrees and windy in Durham: the cricket season is here

With so much international cricket to fit in this summer there is barely room for the county season, which is why Durham were playing on 26 March, the earliest ever start

With 20 minutes to go before the start of the English cricket summer a total of eight spectators are scattered around the prim, pretty stands of the Emirates Riverside stadium.

Actually, make that nine. A man in skiing gloves and a red woolly hat has appeared by the sightscreen. He stands glaring on scornfully as the Durham coach, Neil Killeen, deflects practice catches towards a group of players with hands bunched as close to their pockets as they can respectably manage. The bars and pie hatches may be closed on the Riverside’s opening day, but it will be iced fingers for tea today.

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