Surrey’s signing of South African opening batsman Jacques Rudolph for the start of the 2012 season is further proof of the club’s ambition to be a major player in Division One of the County Championship following long years of underachievement and frustration.
Their thrilling surge to promotion from Division Two in the last month of the 2011 season, winning their last four games, has lifted expectations at Surrey – especially as the team also won its first silverware for eight years when picking up the Clydesdale Bank 40 trophy by beating Somerset at Lord’s to cap a memorable summer.
Yet if Surrey had two weaknesses in a fast-improving and predominantly youthful squad it was in its top order batting – especially the two opening batsmen berths – and in the quality of the spin-bowling department. Indeed, it was only the short-term acquision of Pragyan Ojha, India’s highly-promising slow left-armer, which gave Surrey the added push needed to propel them to Championship promotion during a hectic final month.
Chris Adams, the Surrey team director, has cannily moved quickly to reinforce both these areas with the signings of Rudolph and Murali Kartik, the Indian left-arm spinner, as overseas players for 2012. And, in the early weeks of the season in April and May, which is top-heavy with Championship action, it will be a bonus for Surrey to have a frontline batsman of Rudolph’s class available to help them become accustomed to their new first division status.
Rudolph, 30, was a member of the South African Test side that recently beat Sri Lanka and is also a proven performer in county cricket having averaged 52.20 in 68 matches for Yorkshire. In all, he has made 213 first-class career appearances and will stay at Surrey until Kartik – who has also had extensive county experience with Somerset and Middlesex – arrives after the IPL to play for the remainder of the season.
Cricket South Africa have given Rudolph a No Objection Certificate and he will arrive in London in time for Surrey’s opening four-day game in Division One, against Sussex at the Kia Oval starting on April 5.
Adams said: “Signing a player of Jacques Rudolph’s undoubted capabilities and experience is a great boost to our side at the start of the campaign.
“With such a heavy first-class schedule early in the season it will be a huge advantage to have a world-class opening batsman available to us. I look forward to welcoming Jacques to Surrey in early April.”