It’s hard to believe that it’s the start of Surrey’s County Championship campaign when you are turning up for the first game of the new season in multiple layers; armed with a flask of coffee to keep your hands warm throughout periods of the day.
But it’s finally here – a season that will bring us a home World Cup, an Ashes Test series and, hopefully, another championship title for the South Londoners.
As Alec Stewart has been saying, the combination of all three could force him to juggle his resources when England come calling. But Surrey have strength in depth – so much so that he will have a job keeping every member of his 26-man squad happy.
Sam Curran is Surrey’s first absentee.
Kings XI Punjab’s decision to pay £800k in the IPL auction to secure the services of the 20-year-old raised quite a few eyebrows, especially as he is yet to make his T20 debut on the international stage.
But, as we have seen, he has already given a return on some of that investment.
Even without Curran junior, a number of high-profile players failed to get the nod when the teamsheet was pinned to the dressing room wall yesterday morning.
The plan is to rotate the bowling from game to game, which, given the physical demands of a long season makes sense. But there’s almost as much competition for places in the batting.
In the friendly against Durham University nearly all of Surrey’s batsmen filled their boots – and that was in the absence of this summer’s overseas signing Dean Elgar, newly acquired all-rounder Jordan Clark and Surrey’s latest teenage sensation Jamie Smith.
There is, of course, the loan system, although Surrey have generally been reluctant to farm out their fringe players.
But if I was a director of cricket for one of the second division sides I would definitely be on the phone to Alec to see if the likes of Atkinson, Harinath and Meaker fancy relocating.