I don't usually put much emphasis on stats however the fact that the 3rd Test at the WACA didn't start until 2.30 am each morning last week gave me the chance to delve into something that has been intriguing me for a while. I know I'm easily amused but is it just me or is the trend of batting first reaping massive rewards for teams at all levels at the minute?

Let's face it, as a nation of setters and not chasers it has always been that way in domestic cricket here. Unless the square is under 3 feet of water the skipper who calls correctly in our club games has the pads on before the umpire has lifted the coin again. To be fair its a ploy that works well but a look back over the past year would suggest that it's happening at the very top level too.

Take the recent run of the Irish International side- last month we watched with bated breath as the boys won all 8 of their matches in the World T20 Qualifiers. Remarkably, William Porterfield's side batted first in every single game- six of those correct calls from the former Donemana man. Afghanistan had a real chance to see if our lads could chase as well when they won the toss in the recent IC Cup final but decided instead to see if Ireland could make it 9 out of 9 which they duly did.

Ireland are the best by a zillion miles in the Associate ranks of course so the argument has holes therefore for the real proof I'm homing in on this year's two Ashes series. Ten weeks ago the Aussies headed home with their tails between their legs after a thumping by the auld enemy. There was talk that Michael Clarke had to go- that the team should be torn asunder and built again from scratch. And yet now that same team, save for one or two notable changes sit on top of the world and contemplating the biggest turnaround known to the sport.

Some will say that the difference in conditions was the reason for the dramatic shift in fortunes, others will point to the re-emergence of Mitchell Johnson and there is probably something in both. Just as a matter of interest though- here's how things have panned out in those 8 Test matches so far this year.

1st Test England won toss batted won
2nd Test England won toss batted won
3rd Test Australia won toss batted drew
4th Test England won toss batted won
5th Test Australia won toss batted drew
6th Test Australia won toss batted won
7th Test Australia won toss batted won
8th Test Australia won toss batted won

Probably just 17 coincidences, eh?

And so the North West transfer merry-go-round has finally started with a push and things look set to heat up once the New Year looms into view. Ardmore have been in the news both for their capture of Des Curry and the fact that they have identified a strike bowler as well. And if you believe all those with “inside information” at the minute the Bleachgreen boys might even start the season as title favourites, so many players are there heading down the rocky road. The truth of course is that Lee Brolly's first piece of business will be making sure they stay out of the bottom two and anything after that will be a bonus.

Elsewhere, Fox Lodge and Coleraine now both look set to bring in an overseas professional which will strengthen their hands considerably. The reigning champions will boast a side containing Niall McDonnell, the two Cookes, Jarred Barnes, Gareth Burns, Scott Campbell Jonny Ring as well as their new 24-year old South African professional, although they expect to lose the Averill boys who look to be heading back to Eglinton. They will take some pegging back once more with that line up.

Strabane are also believed to be close to completing their overseas man's deal and have rubbished rumours of Kevin Martin returning to Ardmore. Matt Bentley looks certain to be back in the Tyrone side's line-up in 2014 and they could well have a former all-rounder available to them again come April.

Finally for 2013 then I would just like to wish you and yours a fantastic Christmas and every happiness for the New Year. I'm delighted too that several of our umpires who have been unavailable for one reason or another for a while have indicated that they will return to the fold next season and it will be great to have them back. 2014 promises to be every bit as exciting as this summer and while it's nice to get a few weeks break now it won't be long until we can do it all again.