YOU will struggle to meet a nicer bloke than John Hampshire, our late president at Yorkshire.
The majority of the playing squad will attend his funeral in Rotherham today before we head to Dubai for the pre-season tour on Sunday. It will be just a small tribute from us for such a great man at what is a tough time for his family and for Yorkshire cricket.
It didn't matter who you were, John would always take time out of his day to speak to you. He was good company and he came into the dressing room a few times last season to chat to the lads and wish us well.
I've known him for a few years and I know he was very proud to have the presidency. It was something he thoroughly deserved.
He'd obviously been fighting illness for some time but for him to have a successful year at the helm of Yorkshire cricket is something his family can hold on to.
When I got out early doors at Headingley, I often used to nip upstairs and chat to him and Dickie (Bird) for a bit. They'd be telling all the tales.
We didn't chat so much about cricket, more about life. We just chatted away. We'd just chat rubbish more than anything. Yes, we've lost one of the greats of the game, but more so a great bloke.
The pre-season tour we have coming up will be very different for me compared to previous years, given I will be representing the MCC.
We take part in the Emirates Airline T20 competition in Dubai next Friday before facing Middlesex in the champion county fixture in Abu Dhabi from Sunday.
Having been away playing in New Zealand recently, I'm looking forward to trying to continue that good run of form I've felt this winter to build-up to the season. If I can get some good time out in the middle, I'll be happy.
I feel like I'm ready for the season to start now. Usually at this time of year I'd be looking to get a little bit of form going into the season, whereas now I'm trying to continue that form, which is a good place to be.
I probably haven't ever felt as confident as this heading into a summer, given the runs I scored in New Zealand. I feel quite assured of myself at the moment – but we all know that doesn't mean it will translate to runs. Getting runs early season is tough, although being in a good place mentally can only give you an advantage.
I still have things to work on, such as one-day skills. I didn't play too much one-day stuff while I was in New Zealand but it's a handy situation for me to be in. Spending a couple of months away means that it feels like my winter has gone by in a flash.
It has been nice to see the Yorkshire lads over the last week or so since I've been back home and they all look to be in good shape and decent touch. They are definitely ready to get outside hitting some balls.
To play for the MCC next weekend will be a proud moment for me, given their links to the history of the game and the nostalgia associated with them. It will certainly be a nice little tick in the box. It should be a good, fun and, more importantly, useful fortnight for both me and the rest of the Yorkshire lads.
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