2008 County Preview - Surrey

There have been lots of comings and goings at the Brit Oval over the winter. Surrey have made a number of high profile acquisitions during the off season to bolster their already hugely talented squad. Pakistani fast bowler Mohammed Asif joins the team after a previous spell with Leicestershire in 2006. West Indian Pedro Collins has been signed as a Kolpak player, the bowler hasn’t been able to hold down a place in the international team but is an accomplished and experienced player. Saqlain Musthaq makes a return to the Brit Oval for the 2008 season after spending the previous season with county champions Sussex, and Usman Afzaal has been brought in from Northamptonshire to strengthen the batting. Many have left Surrey during the close season; the most notable of those leaving would be last year’s overseas star Harbhajan Singh whose 37 wickets at 18.5 apiece helped Surrey to a respectable fourth in Division One of the County Championship. Promising spinner Nayan Doshi terminated his contract with the club at the end of last season, fast bowler Azhar Mahmood departs for Kent and Ian Salisbury, the veteran spinner, was released at the end of last season following a poor season. The termination of his contract ended a ten-year stint at the club; he has since signed a two year deal with Warwickshire. Talented all rounder Rikki Clarke and last years Australian overseas fast bowler Matt Nicholson who impressed during the season both leave the Brit Oval team, joining Derbyshire and Northamptonshire respectively. If Surrey are to challenge in the County Championship this season they will need to hope Mark Ramprakash recreates the kind of form with the bat that saw him average over 100 and had many people calling for a recall to the Test scene only to be frozen out by the selectors. The team is ably captained by former England batsman Mark Butcher and the club has a good blend of experience and youth to challenge the frontrunners for this season’s title. The club will also be looking to improve on the shorter form of the game: A mid-table finish in the Friends Provident Trophy as well as narrowly missing out on a quarter-final berth in the Twenty20 Cup will need to be bettered this year, as well as the status of the club in the Pro 40, where they find themselves languishing in the second tier of the competition. In: Mohammad Asif, Pedro Collins, Usman Afzaal, Saqlain Mushtaq, Simon King, Laurie Evans Out: Rikki Clarke, Ian Salisbury, Rory Hamilton-Brown, Mohammad Akram 2008 Predictions: County Championship Division One: Top 3 Pro40 Division One: Promotion Friends Provident Trophy: Semi-Finals Twenty20 Cup: Semi-Finals Official Homepage By Richard Reardon Star Man: Mark Ramprakash Top Tip: Chris Jordan
Official Surrey CCC Website