County cricket awoke from its slumber in 2003 to welcome a new, highlight-packed brand of the game, the Twenty20 Cup.
Fans streamed to county grounds nationwide, with the added incentive of pop concerts and an emphasis on entertainment.
Adam Hollioake's Surrey won the inaugural Twenty20 Cup
And even the hardened cynic was won over by a game that retained the basics but increased the fun.
But if there was nothing but good news for the county game, only some of that spread upwards to the national side.
Moments of real disappointment for England were lightened by occasional performances that hinted at potential for years to come.
They began the year on a high note as Michael Vaughan hit his third century against Australia and Andy Caddick took seven wickets to seal a consolation victory in the fifth Test in Sydney.
The low-point of England's year was without doubt the World Cup, a campaign that was doomed from the moment they decided safety concerns were too great to play in Zimbabwe.
However, arguably the toughest challenge champions Australia faced in the entire tournament was posed by England in Port Elizabeth.
Having scraped a two-wicket win against their Ashes enemies with two balls to spare, there was no stopping Ricky Ponting's side on their way to their second successive title.
A rebuilt England one-day side under Vaughan achieved another highlight in winning consecutive home one-day series in mid-summer.
They downed Pakistan 2-1 in the inaugural NatWest Challenge and dominated South Africa in the final of the triangular NatWest Series at Lord's.
But any momentum gained from those performances and a 2-0 Test series victory over Zimbabwe, which included the first ever Test at Durham's Riverside ground, was soon lost.
Young South Africa captain Graeme Smith enjoyed a Bradman-like start to the Test series, scoring a national record 277 at Edgbaston and 259 at Lord's.
Nasser Hussain had seen enough after the first performance, in a match England just managed to save as a draw, and resigned the Test captaincy.
Thrust into the hot seat, Vaughan struggled for personal form and the team took time to adjust, losing at Lord's and Headingley but gaining a 70-run victory at Trent Bridge.
It all came right at The Oval, though, as Marcus Trescothick hit a double-ton and a recalled Graham Thorpe hit an emotional century in a nine-wicket win to tie the series 2-2.
That left the side in good heart for their inaugural trip to Bangladesh, where the expected whitewash took a little more work than expected.
But challenges remained over the winter in Sri Lanka and then in the West Indies in the New Year.
During the dark days against South Africa, Vaughan hit out at county cricket for producing players ill-prepared for England duty.
But there were few Sussex fans worried as their side clinched a long-awaited first ever County Championship pennant, the race with Lancashire going down to the last game.
Surrey finished third but at least Adam Hollioake's men got their hands on the Twenty20 title, writing their names in a new chapter for English cricket.