News reaches me that Mark Ramprakash has damaged his anterior cruciate ligament while having a Saturday morning kickabout. Obviously the injury requires surgery and typically sportsmen do not return for at least six months, and Ramps is no spring chicken these days. At 41, it could take even longer for the injury to heal satisfactorily.
Lets set aside the anger that the club's most valuable asset has seriously injured himself playing a (presumably) meaningless game of football, though doubtless many supporters will be fuming at that - me included. Where does this leave the club?
Well as I've said above, we're up a certain creek without our biggest paddle. Our batting was brittle but occasionally brilliant last summer, the brilliance largely on the back of a big innings from Ramprakash, almost every innings up and around 400 was built with the help of a Ramps Special.
We have made no signings and Afzaal and Evans have departed the club, two players who would probably have been asked to step up in the absence of Ramprakash. That leaves us with the prospect of a top seven comprising:
Michael Brown (if recovered)
Mercifully the World Cup in Asia will probably be over in time for the start of the English season (if it wasn't we'd be without Davies and Wilson), and none of them currently have concerns about the Indian Premier League (though Davies is a possibility I suppose), but that is still a hugely inexperienced top seven without Ramprakash to bolster it.
Combined they have played 261 First Class matches (an average of 37 each), 181 short of Ramprakash alone, they have have scored 14,060 runs, 40% of Ramprakash's total career runs and their average age is 23, 18 years short of Ramps. Between them they have 22 career hundreds, I don't think I need to mention how many the big man has, and only one of them (Davies) averages over 40 in first class cricket. To say that Ramps leaves a hole in the batting is something of an understatement...
I think this will probably leave Chris Adams having to reassess his desire to sign a 'mystery spinner' as his overseas player for 2011, as the need for a senior batsman is now more pressing than ever before. Mark Cosgrove may well be available after Glamorgan controversially went for Alviro Petersen as overseas and captain. Cosgrove would be an excellent addition as an opener and he's available throughout - but I fear his face does not fit with Adams' fitness regime. Presumably there is no cash for anyone else so we are just going to have to hope and pray that no one gets injured and England go off Davies and Tremlett.
There is of course the option of loan signings as well, but I don't think counties will be offering up top class batsmen for loans. The idea of offering Chris Benham, currently without a county after leaving Hampshire, some sort of deal is now also looking more attractive if we can scrape together a few pounds.
The prospect of gaining promotion now seems a distant spot on the horizon and another season of disappointment beckons. I am hopeful that our youngsters will do us proud, and the pressure on them to do so is now enormous, but its not looking good for 2011.