The wait is almost over - the 2019 County Championship season gets underway this Friday, April 5 (11am).
If you haven't done so already, take some time to pick a Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team and put yourself in the running for more than £7,000 worth of prizes.
All you need to do is select XI players to score you fantasy points based on their performances in the County Championship and One Day Cup matches.
Easier said that done? If you want a few tips to help you get started, last year's winner Tom Sherlock has kindly run us through his 2018 strategy and what his plans are for the upcoming season.
County Challenge strategy
"Firstly, here are some general pre-season tips and reminders that might be helpful:
- Be aware that not all overseas players are available from the start of the season.
- Check which England players have been made available and for how long.
- Check to see which players have been selected in the IPL
- As a general rule, expect seamers to perform well at the start and end of the season whereas the spinners tend to come into their own at the height of the summer.
"The first thing to notice this year is how early the One Day cup starts. There are only 2 rounds of county matches before the One Dayers begin and not all counties will play both sets of matches.
"So I’ll try to select with a view to players who are likely to play and perform well in both formats. In so doing I’ll hope to restrict the number of transfers I might otherwise have to make when the One Day cup commences.
"Starting with the batsmen I like the look of Steve Mullaney. He also bowls a bit and takes his share of catches too.
"James Vince and Alistair Cook are well worth considering and I’ve plumped for Cook. Many players, once they’ve retired from International cricket, can lose the hunger for the county game but I suspect Cook will be different. Whilst I doubt he’ll play 20 / 20 I think he’ll be available for the One Day cup.
"Sam Northeast looks good value with his rating of 5 and I’m backing him to recover his form after an injury hit season in 2018. My 4th pick is a toss up between Ben Duckett and Alex Lees. Both have switched counties in a bid to rediscover their form and are good value at 3 and 2 respectively.
"My keeper is Harvey Hosein of Derbyshire. It looks like he’s got the gloves for keeps this season and represents good value at 3.
"I’ve gone for 2 allrounders at this stage. I’ve decided to plump for Jason Holder. He’s due to play in both early season county games for Northants and the first 6 One Dayers and I’m backing him to make a big impact in his short period of time.
"For the other all rounder I’ve taken a bit of a gamble with Logan van Beek. He represents something of an unknown quantity as he debuts in county cricket but the Kiwi will be eager to make a strong impression in his first season with Derbyshire.
"As for the bowlers, Jake Ball seems to have slipped down the pecking order for England recently but remains a fine bowler for Notts. Duanne Olivier has committed to Yorkshire for the foreseeable and should form a potent combination with Ben Coad.
"I’m tempted to select Mohammad Abbas of Leicestershire but I’m not sure whether he’ll feature much in the One Dayers. So I’ve plumped for Dan Worrall instead. He made a good start for Gloucestershire last year before succumbing to injury but he represents good value at 4 and I’m backing him to rediscover his early season form of last season.
"Of the 11 players I’ve selected 10 of them play for counties participating in the opening round of matches, giving my team a decent chance of getting off to a solid start.
"Also my overall team rating is only 56 which gives me greater flexibility when making transfers in future.
"Looking further afield I’ll be keeping an eye on overseas players who may join later in the season. I’ve decided to enter three teams this year so players who didn’t make the cut for this XI will have a chance to feature in my other two sides.
"I might also bring in one or two players specifically for the One Day cup who don’t necessarily perform so well in the 4 day game. The selection of spinners later in the season will depend very much on the nature of the weather and of course the form of my seamers.
"This Friday I’ll no doubt be checking on the morning of the match that my players have actually been selected by their respective counties ! If not I might have to make a few last minute alterations before 11am!
"Bear in mind though that any transfers made up until this point don’t count against you."
Batsmen - Cook, Lees, Mullaney, Northeast
Keeper - Hosein
All rounders - Holder, Van Beek
Bowlers - Ball, Coad, Olivier, Worrall
"I’ll endeavour to save plenty of transfers for the run in to the season. This approach served me well last year and enabled my team to finish strongly (I only went top on the final day of the season).
"However, if the weather hadn’t been so good in September my approach would’ve backfired - I needed plenty of cricket to be played in the last month of the season to justify the gamble and give me a chance of catching up.
"And this is where luck obviously plays its part. Sometimes a gamble comes off, sometimes it doesn’t but you have to be prepared to take them from time to time."
Think you have what it takes to win this year's edition of Telegraph Fantasy Cricket County Challenge? Pick your XI now and you'll be one step closer to a share of £7,000.