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This, that and the other. Mostly the other
With the sale of overseas TV rights on the cards, new fans are likely to experience the unique joys of county cricket from next year. English domestic cricket cannot expect to compete with the IPL, but when that competition finishes, many eyes will turn to Taunton, Grace Road et al. As an English cricket fan, I know that this switch can prove jarring, so here is a guide on how to acclimatise to county cricket when you've spent recent days watching something altogether more bombastic.
Look for the similarities. This minimises culture shock and helps you ease into county cricket without experiencing the spectator's equivalent of the bends. At the end of the day, it's all cricket, isn't it? Isn't it…?
Well, county cricket and the IPL still have much in common.
The old boys
Comfort yourself with the fact that many counties rely on ageing ex-internationals from overseas.
"Is that Andrew Hall? Is he still playing?"
Yes, he is and it's better that that - now he looks even rounder.
"Surely that can't be the Brendan Nash?"
It most certainly is. There's the peerless leave that brought him a Test average of 33.42.
"And Is that Andre Adams? Was he ever any good?"
Are you kidding? Andre Adams is Amazing. Low-key amazing, but amazing nonetheless. Andre Adams will take 2 for 40 in pretty much every single match this season, and on two occasions he will salvage an innings with a whirlwind fifty from down the order.
Talking up young players based on scant evidence
The IPL is about getting carried away and making every little thing seem like it's the most significant event since the invention of writing. This is particularly apparent when there's a truly seismic event involving a young, unheralded batsman - like he's hit 23 off 15 balls or something. If this happens, the player's technique and composure will be lauded and the commentators will envision the rosiest of futures for him.
The same thing happens in county cricket. If a young player takes a wicket or scores a dozen runs at the right time, his England prospects will inevitably be discussed. Memories are short in county cricket. It doesn't matter if he has a batting average of 32; if a player hits a dashing 73 in a televised game against Glamorgan a week before the England squad is announced, he'll be pushing Andrew Strauss for a batting slot. People will say he has "class" or "something about him".
No England players
Just like the IPL, county cricket doesn't really feature any England players. There are rumours that James Anderson has been seen at Old Trafford this decade, and that some guy who Terry knows has got a photo of Kevin Pietersen in a Surrey helmet that's definitely not photoshopped. However, for all intents and purposes, England players play for England. England Lions players play for counties (and pretty much all English county players have turned out for England's bizarrely-monikered A team at one time or another). Rest assured that your enjoyment of county cricket will not be sullied by any England Test cricketers.
So there you go, cling to the similarities and you'll gradually get used to the differences, such as the wide expanses of empty seating on display. In county cricket, those empty seats will be a different colour, so brace yourself.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket
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