I was perhaps expecting a bigger name as our fill-in overseas player while young Chawla is away at the IPL playing for the Kings XI, but the signing of Rao Iftikhar Anjum was announced on the Surrey site today.
It would be easy to dismiss him as a bit-part player in Pakistan internationals over the past six or seven years, who is unlikely to set the world alight for the few games he's available, but I think he mightn't be the worst signing in the world.
In early English season conditions, greenish pitches and perhaps some overhead conditions conducive to swing, his mid-to-late 80s pace and ability to swing the ball might just see him picking up a clutch of wickets.
I should say at this point that I distinctly remember saying that Grant Elliott was a better signing than he seemed on the surface, and he wasn't all that great at all! But I think Rao has a lot more pedigree than Elliott, he has getting on for 500 wickets in all forms under his belt, and at a healthy average too. In ODIs, of which he's played 62, he might not have picked up hatfuls of wickets, but 77 have come his way at 31 apiece.
I think a seam attack boasting Rao, Tremlett, Nel and Dernbach backed up by some decent spinning options in Schofield, Batty and Hamilton-Brown should see us competing at the very least.
It is an odd feeling, to be mildly optimistic after a few years of despair, but here's hoping that optimism isn't misplaced!
Note: I'm still a bit concerned at our lack of a second overseas signing for the Twenty20 Cup, especially in light of Hampshire's signing of Abdul Razzaq to join Afridi (I'm told Mendis is no longer available). I hope Surrey have something up their sleeves!
Here's a little video of Rao picking up three wickets, De Villiers bowled, Kemp to a slightly questionable LBW (might have been outside the line!) and Botha caught slogging:
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