Marcus Hook’s Surrey CCC column: My surprise at overseas signing and the joys of out-ground cricket

BY MARCUS HOOK
The hope always was that the magnificent new pavilion at Guildford – built at a cost of £1.95m and jointly funded by Guildford Borough Council and Surrey CCC – would end the Oval outfit’s run of 15 win-less County Championship games at Woodbridge Road.
Undeterred by the Wednesday start and the non-appearance of Virat Kohli, the first two days produced decent-sized crowds, due, no doubt, not just by the weather, but the appeal amongst true cricket lovers of out-ground cricket.
There’s nothing like getting up close to the players, who seem to embrace the change of scenery by gladly signing scorecards, miniature bats and autograph books; and, if they find themselves on the boundary, sharing a joke or two with the punters.
But, in a week that saw a major one-day semi-final being played not at the weekend, but on Monday, the ECB has excelled itself by scheduling the Arundel, Guildford, Swansea and Tunbridge Wells festivals for the same four days.
I’d love to know who operates the ECB’s fixtures computer. In my mind’s eye I keep imagining it’s “Computer says no” out of Little Britain.
If I’m honest, I was a little surprised that Surrey opted to bring in South African batsman Theunis de Bruyn as overseas player for two games. True, England calls have relieved them of both Currans, plus Foakes and Roy, but there would appear to be no shortage of competition at the moment.
In recent weeks Will Jacks has announced himself in the one-dayers and in two Seconds matches on the trot, now, Chris Green and Nick Welch have been in scintillating form with the bat.
Competition for places ups everyone’s game. Those of us with long-ish memories remember that when Surrey carried all before them under Adam Hollioake, the likes of Nadeem Shahid and Jason Ratcliffe were forced to wait their turn.
One would hope the same is true of England. But are the likes of Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings worrying about their places at top of the batting order?
They might be if Rory Burns potential to grace the international stage was being taken more seriously.
Like Somerset’s James Hildreth, who, on this week’s evidence, continues to look a cut above at county level, I just can’t see Burnsey ever getting the call now.
Why? Because, if he did, we’d all be asking the selectors what has Burns being doing differently to change their minds.

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