If I was hoping for a quiet period of inactivity at Surrey while I was away, I can only be disappointed. Aside from three Championship games, one of which produced a result, there was also the beginnings of a mini-revolution in personnel at the club.
Let's start with the cricket first. As you will well know by now we've had two rain affected draws with Somerset and Lancashire, which produced hundreds for Arun Harinath, Kevin Pietersen and crucially Zander de Bruyn (crucially for reasons I will discuss below!). An emphatic 195 run win was delivered against Nottinghamshire which secured our First Division status for 2013. A massive relief for club and fans alike after a troubling season, to say the least.
Recruitment for next season will be a damn sight easier with Division One cricket in the bag, and it's a good job too because over the last few weeks a whole bunch of players have been released or allowed to talk to other clubs.
It was announced that Tom Lancefield, who only ever had sporadic chances in the first team, would not have his contract renewed. He first came into the side in late 2009 and looked to have something about him. He was (along with seemingly everyone else under Adams) tried and discarded as an opener, and following an injury ravaged 2011 it never seemed as though the coach had any faith in him.
Chris Jordan ended his Surrey career unfulfilled as he too will not be returning for 2013. Unlike Lancefield Jordan was given untold opportunities to prove himself and never really convinced in consecutive matches. His time at the club was defined by flashes of genius without ever really kicking on. When he came onto the scene in 2007 he looked to have it all. A hard hitting batsman who was also capable of hitting 90mph with the ball but injury and inconsistency of form took its toll. A career of 40 first class matches, a bowling average just under 40 and a batting average just over 20 tells its own story. He still has all the raw materials to succeed so a change of scenery might do him good.
The prize for "Most Disappointing" announcement while I was away is hotly contested. Matthew Spriegel, hero of 2011's CB40 campaign and general lifesaver in 2012's limited overs matches, finally gave up trying to force his way into Chris Adams' four day team and will play for Northants in 2013. That so many of his colleagues were tried as an opening batsman while he stewed on the sidelines is in my view something of a disgrace. He played five fewer first class games than Jordan (and don't forget Jordan missed all of 2010 with injury) despite consistently impressing for the Second XI. I am sure that, given an extended run in the side, he would have delivered with bat and ball. His release is a huge mistake.
The other competitor for "Most Disappointing" is that Rory Hamilton-Brown may not ever appear in a Surrey shirt again. He has been given permission to talk to other clubs, despite being under contract until the end of 2013. Clearly the stresses of all the water under the bridge in 2012 have become too much for the former skipper. Perhaps the club holds too many memories for him, and perhaps, as George Dobell gently puts it in his Cricinfo article, a move away from the distractions of London will be best for him.
Hamilton-Brown's wellbeing has to be considered but I can't pretend not to be disappointed by this revelation. Whatever was going on at the club before and after the events of June, I would have hoped that he would eventually realise his undoubtedly massive potential at Surrey, not somewhere else.
All the while there is also talk (and it's only talk, nothing certain) of Gary Wilson (who impressed with two fifties and an unbeaten 30 deputising for Davies against Somerset and Notts) departing and Rory Burns stalling over a new contract.
All that amounts to the management, and as far as we know it will still be Adams for 2013, having a huge recruitment task on their hands. We have now lost Maynard, Ramprakash, Spriegel, Lancefield and Jordan, and could be set to lose Hamilton-Brown and Wilson too. In return we have signed one 36 year old batsman in Vikram Solanki. Arun Harinath, Burns and Ansari (once he completes his studies) look set to have prominent roles at the club next season but having come in to this year a batsman light, we are now in an even weaker position. Zander de Bruyn's late-season return to form now seems all the more important.
The next few weeks and months will be interesting, not to say crucial, for the club. A captain is required, assuming that stand-in Batty will not continue into next season. Several batsmen are needed and perhaps, with Dernbach and Meaker likely to increasingly be away on England duty, so too is a bowler. Adams, having re-made the club in his own image after he joined in 2008, may now get another chance to do so.
Over the next few days I'll be reviewing the 2012 season, but one can't help but look to 2013 with a degree of trepidation.
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