Alex Winter at Essex 101-2, 308 behind Gloucestershire
We're doing alright here. I daresay any major rain has passed us by and we might be ok for a decent period. Gloucestershire have been too loose with the ball, Bopara and Westley have played their strokes and moved the scoring along at a good lick. They have wrested back some of the initiative and the odds on a draw have come tumbling in with no wicket to fall today.
The naming-rights deal with Ford came to an end last year and without branding, Essex seem to be pushing the Australian abbreviation, ECG, as the new name for their home. Being open 365 days of the year must have been at Alastair Cook's request, he could do with a net on Christmas Day.
Vithushan Ehantharajah at the Surrey press day
When you flex your financial muscle in county cricket, you set about a series of shifts.
A shift of feeling; the envy of your peers countered, albeit less vociferously, by the goodwill of the glory-hunters and neutrals.
A shift of talent; Chris Jordan (right arm, don’t you know) took six wickets on debut, Laurie Evans is touted for big things at Warwickshire and Matthew Spriegel could be so much more than just a medieval surname in Steelback clothing.
But the biggest – and arguably most important – is the shift in aesthetics.
Filing into a shmancy suite at The Oval for Surrey’s press day, the first thing you notice is the variety of haircut on offer. For every Jason Roy – a coiffed, reverse-front arrangement with immaculate sides – there’s now a Vikram Solanki – his no nonsense bouffant, worthy of a “Just For Men” ad.
This is where Graeme Smith comes in.
Combining the sensibility of a man entering his latter cricketing years, with the twinkly eyes, puffed chest and caricature chin of a Disney bully, his shaped back and sides provide the support for a quiff reinforced with hydrolysised England captains.
On paper, Surrey are formidable. On the pitch they may take time to gel.
Follicly, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone better.