Over the coming months two more new faces will cross the threshold at the Oval, Glenn Maxwell, confirmed by Surrey yesterday as signing for the Twenty20, and JP Duminy, widely reported to be coming as cover for Ricky Ponting from August onwards.
That brings the total of new faces at the Oval in 2013 to eight, a remarkable turnover in personnel in the space of just 12 months. With so many comings and goings, getting any sort of team ethic together will be a substantial challenge for the coaching staff.
So what of these new signings? Glenn Maxwell is most recently famous for scoring a million dollar contract to play for the victorious Mumbai Indians in the IPL (and only actually playing three times) but in recent months also made his Test debut for Australia in India. He comes highly regarded, and not just by himself.
In last year's Twenty20, playing for Hampshire, Maxwell topped their batting averages with 179 runs at 44, and a remarkable strike rate of 175. He also picked up seven wickets along the way with his handy off spin. Most pertinently Maxwell is an athletic fielder which is crucial with our side at times bordering on the geriatric.
Maxwell's record isn't stellar in any form of limited overs cricket, he doesn't average over 30 in Twenty20 or List A, and he's never scored a limited overs century. Neither is his career bowling record especially impressive so on the face of it he's a curious signing. However, despite that I think he's a good recruit. For a long time we've been lacking brute force in the middle order, with Maxwell and Azhar Mahmood (notwithstanding the fact that I would rather see a youngster play in his place), that issue has been addressed.
The batting line up is, on paper, a good combination of power, finesse, experience and innovation. Roy, Maxwell and Azhar can provide the big hitting, Davies can find the gaps, Wilson can sweep and scoop his way through the middle overs, Ponting can be the brain and Ansari can finish things off. A varied bowling attack goes with it so we might just end up ticking a lot of boxes.
Should the JP Duminy signing be confirmed as well he won't be a like-for-like replacement for Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith (who presumably played a significant role in the signing of his fellow South African international), but we will be welcoming a tremendously valuable cricketer. He has an impressive first class record, with 5,000 runs at an average just a tick over 50, plus over 4,000 List A runs at an average just below 40. His useful off breaks could also be called on plenty as late season pitches begin to wear.
Duminy has recently been out for six months after rupturing his Achilles tendon during South Africa's test against Australia in November. However it seems to have done him little harm since his first innings returning from the injury was a career-best 150 not out against Holland ten days ago.
Surrey have been very active in the market for new players this year and while the domestic signings have been hit and miss, the overseas signings have for once been very good. I still worry that the approach we're adopting is hardly planning for the future, but it is what it is. What isn't in doubt is that we're in desperate need of an upturn in fortunes, perhaps one of these two arrivals can provide that.
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