I seem to be having a bit of a sabbatical at the moment with the Benson and Hedges Cup dominating the fixture list while I am excused duty in one-day cricket. But it was a pleasure to be able to sit back with my feet up watching the boys get off to such a convincing start to the one-day season.
It's all a bit disappointing in a way as I had just got into the swing of the season with a few wickets, and then the Benson and Hedges Cup comes along. I tend not to get selected for the one-day stuff and so there is a danger that I might lose a bit of rhythm.
But I have a second team game here and there, do a bit of bowling in the nets and that sort of thing just to keep the eye in and turn the arm over and then keep the fingers crossed that the boys progress. There is always the chance that we'll get a wicket that looks like it might turn, and then I'd probably get a game but, being early season, it's usually seam-orientated. I must admit it all becomes a bit frustrating, especially after a good start to the season, but I'll just have to keep myself in knick.
Deep down, I want to be involved in all the matches, but I have to accept there is team balance to be taken into account, pitches, the weather and all that kind of stuff. As Embers is always keen to remind us, the only way we're going to do well is by being a squad of players. It has become that, with the youngsters chipping in when more senior players get injured. It is a squad and we all have to get behind one another and push together in all the competitions.
Before I took my little break, the ball was coming out of the hand well and I felt my game was in good order. Generally the mood is buoyant in the camp. Ashley Noffke has come in and looks a fine prospect. I'm pleased he's on our side and not playing against us. It has been great to get two wins by getting 450 or so on the board and then enforcing the follow-on and bowling them out again. That's the way to do it.
It does mean some long stretches in the field, but I would rather do it that way than being on the end of 600 and chasing round the field all day. Eminently preferable to be bowling them out, getting a few wickets and finishing up with a win, I would say.
It all goes to help me still thoroughly enjoy my cricket, and it's great to get off to a good start. Mind you, we began in a similar way last year and couldn't follow it through. This year the guys might be that little bit more experienced and hardened and we can push on forward right the way through to the end.
Of course, it will be under the control of a new captain, because Angus Fraser has decided to retire. I think he was going to do so anyway at the end of the season, but this job opportunity came up and he decided it might not be around later and so he should go for it. I think he was a bit upset not to have been able to finish the season off, but everyone supports him in his decision.
He's been a fantastic servant to the club over a long, long time and I wish him well in everything he does. Provided, that is, he doesn't write anything nasty about me once he's got into the press box!
I was sad to see the old boy go. I've changed next to the same spotty backside for the last 18 years with Middlesex and England and it was always reassuring to have my old mate around. We played a lot of cricket together and went along similar career paths. Furthermore, it means that I'm the old boy in the side now. Gussie was the last of that era, so now the mantle passes to me and I'm not quite ready to hang my boots up yet awhile.
Now it's my job to try to help out the new man, Andy Strauss, as it always is for senior players to help youngsters whether it's batting, bowling or captaincy. If I see anything in the field or if he wants any advice, I'm there to help. That is something that happens anyway, but I will have a little more of a senior role now.
I'll enjoy that extra involvement and responsibility, because we have a very young side at the moment and one that is performing very well. They keep me on my toes and young at heart. I don't think Andy will need that much help because he's a shrewd and bright chap with his own ideas on how the game should be played. I think he'll be powerful and dominant in his own right. I'll be happy to help him wherever I might be needed.
Phil Tufnell appears courtesy of Paragon Sports Management