Its confidence sapped by another Ashes flop and first-round elimination from the World Cup, English cricket has also been hit financially by its refusal to play in Zimbabwe.
While the domestic game usually starts under clouds -- preparations for Sunday's traditional opener between Cambridge University and Essex were held up by snow -- this season begins amid a storm of cricket politics and acrimony.
England goes into Test series against Zimbabwe and South Africa with little confidence, but hoping that stars such as Yorkshire batsman Michael Vaughan and Lancashire paceman James Anderson shine in the early weeks of the county championship, which starts April 18.
Reporting that the Zimbabwe boycott has cost the domestic game millions in revenue, the England and Wales Cricket Board is still being criticised for its handling of the crisis.
Nasser Hussain and his World Cup players spent five days agonizing whether to travel to the politically volatile country to play a group game. They eventually refused, England forfeited the points and, as a result, was eliminated in the first round.
The International Cricket Council decided to withhold US $3.56 million of England's share of World Cup revenue because of its refusal to play in Zimbabwe. This was because the loss of ticket and sponsorship revenue by the host nation seemed almost certain to lead to compensation claims.
The ECB has passed much of that loss on to the counties as part of a US $6.2 million reduction in planned expenditure.
"It is regrettable that these cost savings need to be found, but they are part of the financial fallout from the 2003 World Cup," ECB chief executive Tim Lamb said.
Satisfied with the successful completion of "the first stage of the rebuilding process", Pakistan captain said quite a few questions regarding Pakistani cricket had been answered in the Sharjah Cup tournament, which his side won on Friday night, beating Zimbabwe by eight wickets.
"All questions have to be answered with the performance on the ground and we are happy that some of them have been answered," Latif said, when asked whether the wholesale changes in the Pakistani side after the World Cup debacle were justified.
Pakistan, which fielded a new-look side in the tournament, won all their league matches before defeating Zimbabwe in the final to win the four-nation one-day competition.
"It is a big step in our rebuilding process. We were in crisis when we came here. We came here to win and we have won. All credit to the boys," Latif said.
"Now we have to switch off. We will switch on again in Sri Lanka, which will be the second phase of our rebuilding process. After the series against Sri Lanka, we will assess the results and the performance of the boys and take whatever measures are necessary," he said.
Pakistan coach Javed Miandad said the young players had "performed beyond expectations" and had shown that they had the talent and the temperament to excel at the highest level.
"We came here with a purpose and that has been achieved. Pakistan cricket is moving in the right direction. The new boys are very talented and also hungry for success. That is a good sign," Miandad said.
After a dream run in the World Cup, Kenyan cricket is now back to square one. Kenya lost all its three league games in the four-nation one-day tournament in Sharjah. The promised financial rewards for the players for their Word Cup performance are yet to come and even the sponsor it got during the latter stages of the World Cup has withdrawn.
The future also does not hold much promise as there are no fixtures slated for the team. The team does not know in which tournament it is going to play next. Kenya's hard-working captain Steve Tikolo sported a wry smile on his face on being asked about the benefits accruing from the World Cup performance.
"Many things are planned but nothing concrete has happened as yet," he says.
Kenya was widely believed to have come of age in the World Cup in South Africa, where it defeated three higher rated opponents on its way to becoming the first non-Test playing nation to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup. It even troubled India and Australia in the Super Six games.
But here in Sharjah, it could hardly compete against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, all of which were plagued by their own problems and were not performing to their full strength.
"Part of the reason [for the poor performance in Sharjah] is that we were asked to come here all of a sudden. We came only because South Africa withdrew. We were caught unawares," says Tikolo.
Jimmy Maher will join the Australian team in the West Indies to give wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist a break, the Australian Cricket Board announced on Sunday.
ACB chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Maher would arrive in the Caribbean in time for Australia's match against a University of West Indies XI, in Barbados, beginning on April 26.
Maher was a member of the Australian one-day team that won the World Cup in South Africa but missed out on the Test squad.
However, the Queensland captain was certain to make the Australian one-day squad to play West Indies as soon as the Test series was over.
"We are not necessarily saying that Jimmy is the country's second-best wicketkeeping option," Hohns said in a statement.
"But for this match we would rather introduce a player who is going to be with the team for the duration of the trip, rather than fly someone across for a few days."
Hohns said Gilchrist, who is also a key batsmen for both the Test and one-day teams, needed a short break after an exhausting schedule in recent months.
"It is important that we continue to monitor his workload and give him time-off where possible," Hohns said.
"He has had a long campaign and doesn't get many opportunities to rest, so we need to be conscious that he doesn't get over worked and end up suffering from fatigue."
Maher had been captaining the Australia A team in a series against their South African counterparts. New South Wales batsman Simon Kaitch will stand in as captain.