Rumours were doing the rounds as early as September about Surrey signing South African captain Graeme Smith and the club have now confirmed the left-hander as their new captain for the 2013 season as well as for the following two years.
It will be the 31 year-old's second spell in county cricket, after leading Somerset in 2005, a season in which they lifted the Twenty20 Cup for the first - and to date - only time.
The new structure is a result of the significant customer research that the ECB carried out at the end of last season, with the main changes being a switch back to 50-over cricket, the retention of the successful two-division 16-game County Championship formula with more consistent and Sunday start days, and the introduction of a season-long Twenty20 competition, played predominantly on Friday nights, rather that the current block format.
Surrey have further strengthened their spin bowling stocks by signing veteran Lancashire left-arm spinner Gary Keedy on a two-year contract. Plus news from Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire.
Nottinghamshire have strengthened their seam-bowling line-up following the close-season loss of Darren Pattinson by signing former Lancashire and Yorkshire all-rounder Ajmal Shahzad on a three-year contract. Plus news from Somerset, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Sussex.
Sussex's Scott Styris has rewritten the history books in sensational style in winning this year's Walter Lawrence Trophy, awarded for the fastest hundred of the season, with a 37-ball century.
Styris smashed no fewer than 9 sixes and 5 fours in his unbeaten hundred against Gloucestershire in the Friends Life t20 quarter-final at Hove, making it the fastest ever century - from balls faced and non-contrived bowling - in the history of the competition.
It was Hampshire and not Warwickshire who won the county double in 2012 thanks to their thrilling last-ball win in the Clydesdale Bank 40 final at Lord's.
Needing just seven to win from the final over, Warwickshire were favourites, even more so when Neil Carter - in his last match - hit the penultimate ball for four to bring the scores level. However, Kabir Ali delivered a low full-toss just outside off-stump which Carter missed and Michael Bates, who had kept superbly all day, whipped off the bails and yanked a stump out of the ground for good measure.
Derbyshire finally won their first silverware since 1993 by successfully chasing down the 196 that they needed to beat Hampshire to win the LV= County Championship Division Two title. Elsewhere, Warwickshire had to show all of the resolve that they had shown to win the LV= County Championship to hold off Nottinghamshire on the final day at Trent Bridge.
Glamorgan's win over Kent late on the third day at Cardiff means that it is Derbyshire and Yorkshire who will be replacing Lancashire and Worcestershire in Division One for next season. Worcestershire themselves, meanwhile, ended their disappointing season on a new low by slumping to an innings defeat at Taunton that secured Somerset second position in the Division One table.