It's April, a time when the snows of the Europe either cease or start to decrease, and club cricketers from Dublin to Moscow reflect on their winter exercise and dietary regime and think, " was it enough - well, hamstrings eventually recover!"
With some countries already in full whites, 'Beyond The Test World' thought it was appropriate to brief you on when the various European competitions get underway.
In Ireland, the Foot and Mouth Disease scare caused consternation as to the starting dates on the three main Irish leagues, but it is expected the North West, Northern and Leinster competitions will begin as expected on Saturday, April 28.
The F&M scare threatened to delay the opening of the Irish season, consistent with the recent postponement of Rugby Union Five Nations matches in the Republic. While BTTW cannot explain the science, apparently any place where people can congregate and theoretically transfer turf from their footwear is believed to be a possible means of spreading the disease.
Across the Irish Sea, the Scottish League, like most European competitions is due to start on Saturday, May 5. The various regional leagues, the North, South, East and West are expected to start either a week earlier or around the same time.
In Norway, the competition there will start on May 5, with a yet-to-be-determined number of clubs. BTTW is pleased to announce it will be bringing you regular updates of the Norwegian season.
Next door in Sweden, the situation is apparently not as clear. It is understood no starting date has been set yet. If you are involved in cricket in Sweden and would like it to be publicised on this page, please email me.
The ever-progressive and approachable Finland Cricket Association will be starting their league on May 19, with friendlies starting on May 5. There are good things happening in Finnish cricket and BTTW will provide a more extensive description of events in the next edition. Andrew Armitage will keep you posted.
In Denmark, the Cup competition is already underway, while the League will start on May 5. Peter Power, whose reports remain popular, will brief you shortly on the Cup outcome and the prospects for the combatants of the League season.
Similarly, the Dutch season will commence on May 5 & 6. One of the stronger leagues, it features a contingent of players with extensive experience in either First Class or club cricket in the Test countries. BTTW does not have a correspondant on the Dutch domestic scene. Anyone interested is more than welcome to email me.
The Cup knockout competition in Belgium starts next weekend and will be followed by the start of the League season on May 6. Belgium has at least one new club as well as making great progress at the junior level. Look out for regular news from Martin O'Connor.
Richie Benaud will be bringing you monthly updates of the season in France. Next weekend the Parisien competition starts, while the South West (Sou Ouest) competition begins with five clubs on May 27. The commencement dates of the South East competition is not known at this time.
In Spain, there isn't a league competition, but there is plenty of cricket played mainly by the expatriate clubs against touring sides virtually 52 weeks a year.
Elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula, the Portuguese season takes off the weekend of April 28/29. Areeiro CC, formerly specialists at the indoor variety, are set to make their league debut, while it is hoped Oeiras CC is still a possibility. Unfortunately Oporto is not expected to be able to field a team on a regular basis this year so has opted out of the League. Peter Eckersley will keep you briefed on all the happenings in Portugal during 2001.
It's a May 5 start also for Gibraltan league cricket. It is understood six clubs will be participating.
On the French Riviera, Monaco's only cricket club, Monte Carlo CC, has already had its first practice match and plays its initial game in the heat of battle on April 29 at home against Montpelier. It has a fixture list which extends to October.
Not much is known about the various leagues in Germany, which tend to act in almost total isolation from each other. The Southern (Munich) league is expected to commence on May 15. It is hoped to provide regular updates of that competition throughout the German summer.
Switzerland also is looking at May 5 for its first hit of the year. John Bird will be bringing you regular updates on what is happening there.
The caretakers of eastern European cricket, the Austrian Cricket Association, have yet again proven their expansionist credentials with the inclusion of Slovenia's Llubljana CC and Croatia's Zagreb CC in their nine-team domestic Open League competition, which starts on Saturday, April 28. The Czech Republic's Prague CC is expected to join them for the first round of the Trophy Cup knockout competition on June 9. The ACA is one of the best laid out non-Test national sites on the internet and well worth a look.
Elsewhere in this edition of BTTW, you can find Simone Gambino's account of the opening of the season in Italy.
With Jewish Passover almost over, the Israel Cricket Association hopes to start its domestic season next Thursday (April 14).
A pleasant problem exists with brining you news from Greece where Greek being the favoured tongue there has made it difficult to locate a reliable contact. If you have Greek characters on your PC, your help would be most appreciated.
In Russia, a six team competition is expected to be contested by Moscow's expatriate community. It is hoped it will get underway on May 5.
One of the Ukraine's most important competitions, the Vinnitsa Pirogov Memorial Tournament, is believed to have already started. BTTW will be bringing you regular updates of cricket in the Ukraine this northern summer.
Just to paraphrase, BTTW requires assistance with receiving news from Sweden, the Netherlands, Greece, Malta and Turkey. Your help would be gratefully received.
To all cricket players and supporters across Europe, I hope the 2001 is an enjoyable and injury-free one.