Starting well after the other two competitions, the Royal London One-Day cup seems a long way off but that won’t stop sides across the country looking over the fixtures closely this morning.
With each side only playing the others in their group once, it’s important for each side to be aware of to whom they will be playing host to and to which grounds they will need to travel.
The second version of the 50-over competition continues in the same format as last season. Two groups of nine teams have been randomly allocated and each side plays eight matches, meeting each opposition just the once. The top four in each group will progress through to the knock out stage. As per last year, the RLODC begins midway through the County Championship season and after the Natwest T20 Blast group stages have been completed.
The only change, if it can be called that, is that in 2015 we will have an opening Saturday, in which the two finalists from last season will play their first fixture, while the rest of the fixtures follow the next day.
Inaugural winners Durham will open their campaign on July 25th against Northamptonshire at New Road and runners-up Warwickshire will meet Nottinghamshire at a venue yet to be confirmed.
The group stage runs for roughly a month, with fleeting interruptions for Championship matches and T20 knock-out games.
The RLODC quarter-finals will take place at the end of August followed by the semi-finals in early September, wedged between the post-Ashes ODI series. The final will, once again, take place at Lord’s just before the final round of Championship fixtures on Saturday 19th September.
Keep an eye out for Durham against Yorkshire on Sunday August 2nd. Yorkshire flew through the group stages in fine form last year and were justifiably hopeful of some silverware. It was not to be, however, as Chris Rushworth and Mark Stoneman undid them when they met Durham in the first quarter final. It was far from the first time Durham had exposed weaknesses in the Yorkshire side and something of a rivalry has formed.
Also worth watching will be Derbyshire against Leicestershire at the 3aaa County Ground on Tuesday August 4th. The two have something of an East Midlands camaraderie off the field, but on the field they are foes from way back.
In a heated affair at Trent Bridge late last season, Warwickshire tried to deny Nottinghamshire a home quarter-final, but thanks to Alex Hales and James Taylor, the hosts were able to chase down the huge total posted by the Bears. The opening Saturday will see these two face each other once more and, be it at Trent Bridge or Edgbaston, it’s bound to be a quality tie.