Warwickshire will launch their championship title defence next season against newly-promoted Derbyshire at Edgbaston.
Both teams will eagerly look forward to the match, which will be the Bears’ first as 2012 champions and Derbyshire’s first back in the top flight.
But for one player in particular the fixture will have extra spice.
Having come through the Warwickshire system since the age of 11, wicketkeeper Richard Johnson finally took the decision this winter to leave his beloved Edgbaston in pursuit of first-team cricket.
The Solihull-born player has signed a three-year contract with Derbyshire – and there was never any doubt about which games were the first he would look for when the fixtures were published.
As it turns out, Warwickshire’s meetings with Derbyshire bookend the season with the teams meeting in the opening round, at Edgbaston in April, and then the last, at Derby in September,
The banter is already flying, reports Johnson.
“It will be very strange, if selected, to play against Warwickshire, especially at Edgbaston,” he said. “The mind games have already started. The Bears bowlers have already been telling me they are going to hit me on the head!
“Warwickshire have got the best bowling attack in the country, that’s why they won the championship, and there is a bit of pace in the wicket at Derby these days, so facing that lot on that pitch will be interesting.
‘‘It’s quite spicy and will be a real challenge. I can’t wait.”
Johnson is now part of an improving Derbyshire squad that could be a surprise package in Division One next season.
Whatever they achieve, though, is unlikely to match what the 24-year-old experienced at the end of his final year with his native county in September.
With Tim Ambrose injured, Johnson was recalled from his loan spell with Derbyshire and found himself playing in the Bears team which beat Worcestershire to clinch the title on a memorable day (not least because it was one of about three days all season on which the sun shone) at New Road.
“On the balcony that day it was a real mixture of emotions because, although it wasn’t certain that I was going, my mind was pretty much made up,” he said.
“I was absolutely delighted to be part of a championship-winning squad.’’