Surrey have announced the signing of South African Jacques Rudolph, as an overseas player until IPL-bound Murali Kartik arrives in late May. All in all, this is a very good signing for this stage of the season.
There are seven Championship games, and ten games in all before the end of May so Rudolph will be available for a lot of cricket. At a time of the season where opening the batting is often very tricky, with the ball swinging and seaming around more than it might in August and September, a solid, experienced pro at the top of the order is hugely important.
There is of course the prospect of Steven Davies being absent for the very early part of the season on England duty in Sri Lanka so a stand-in opener, likely to be Hamilton-Brown, will still be required, but batting with Rudolph can do him the world of good. A man with 213 first class games, 45 first class hundreds and five test hundreds, including a double to his name, knows how to bat for long periods of time. Hopefully that will rub off on the captain.
And when Davies returns, presumably to partner Rudolph at the top, Hamilton-Brown can return to the middle order where he prefers to bat, and Davies can continue his fine work from last season where he averaged 54 from 11 innings as opener.
There is no doubting the talent in our batting lineup, but we definitely felt an experienced batsman light, especially early in the season in 2011. Rudolph has the ability to get us off to good starts in games. The experience of Ramprakash and de Bruyn in there too, mixed with the youthful exuberance of the skipper, Maynard and Roy makes for an exciting combination.
I would expect Gary Wilson to deputise for Davies as keeper initially and it'll be interesting to see if he can re-capture the form of his late 2010 purple patch. Batty will probably continue at number eight and three from Lewis, Linley, Meaker, Jordan and Dernbach (with Tremlett absent through injury early season) will vie for the bowlers' slots.
The step-up in class to division one will become all too apparent the moment we open our season against Sussex, but Adams is building on last season with a good mixture of solid and flair players. Bring on April!