Zander de Bruyn’s close-season switch from bucolic Taunton to ‘the smoke’ of SE11 surprised Somerset and Surrey supporters alike.
The West Country county, having come so close to winning the County Championship in 2010 while pressing for one-day honours for the past several seasons, shocked their fans by allowing the South African-born all-rounder to leave despite having a year remaining on contract.
Surrey, however, having already bolstered their side in recent times with the captures of Steven Davies, Rory Hamilton-Brown, Gareth Batty and Tom Maynard, coupled with the emergence of Jason Roy, appeared to have batting prowess aplenty.
Yet the close-season knee injury that threatened the illustrious career of Mark Ramprakash seemingly led to a re-think and thus 35-year-old de Bruyn arrived at The Oval in search of a fresh challenge.
“It was a funny move in many ways because I had a year left at Somerset, but got this call out in South Africa that Somerset were going to release me,” said the right-hander from Johannesburg.
“It was a late decision and although Somerset circulated my name I felt a little bit stuck if I’m honest. My agent then came up with this deal with Surrey which I’m very happy about, because it’s a great ground to play on.
“I’m very happy with the move and I’d like to think that shows in my performances. They are very different counties and different grounds, for sure, but I’m used to the hustle and bustle of the big city and it’s a great wicket to bat on here.”
Since moving to London, De Bruyn has been outstanding in four-day cricket, becoming his new team’s leading scorer with almost 650 runs at an average of 53.5. His highest score of 172 came against Glamorgan at the SWALEC Stadium. He has also picked up six Championship wickets with his brisk medium-pace and has proved a useful addition to the one-day bowling attack.
He is adamant, however, that he did not move to Surrey simply to replace Ramprakash following the former England batsman’s knee injury picked up playing football last winter.
De Bruyn added: “I had a good chat to Chris Adams before putting pen to paper and although there were worries about Mark’s fitness he assured me that they wanted me simply to bring more experience to the side and to the dressing room.
“The thinking was that myself and Ramps would help to bring the youngsters through and guide them in the right way.
“I like tricky conditions as a player and going in when there are difficult situations. It’s more satisfying somehow to score runs when it’s not such an easy wicket to bat on. I’m a battler and always ready for a fight, so those are the qualities I’ll try to bring to the side.
“This is a younger dressing room than Somerset, but I enjoy that. The youngsters keep you on your toes, they push you fitness-wise too, so that’s always a good thing to have.
“I’ve been pleased with my form so far, especially as we’ve had bowler-friendly wickets even at The Oval. I’d like to get a few more hundreds in the second half of the summer, so my conversion rate is where I’ll be looking to improve.”