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In the Oval office

Brown Caps need to bridge gulf in experience

Adams and Butcher: partnership needs to flourish

Chris Adams faces a massive challenge to turn Surrey's fortunes around but he is definitely the right man for the job.

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"Chris' philosophy is simple: work bloody hard and work harder. Play with passion and discipline and don't leave any stone unturned."

Ian Ward

Quotes of the week

I know Griz quite well after playing with him for Sussex; he loves a challenge and has some very, very good ideas.

But the way Surrey is structured and the way the club has been run behind the scenes has not done those on the cricket side of things any favours.

Surrey's focus has been on making a lot of money, which they have done incredibly successfully. But while they have built a fantastic new stand I think it has been to the detriment of what's going on in the field.

They've let a very talented but ageing squad disintegrate without sufficient lines of planning to get the youngsters coming through. As a result, they've been left with talented but very young, inexperienced kids that are probably two, three or four years away from coming to full fruition.

There is a big gap in experience for Chris and his backroom staff to work with; it goes without saying that people like Mark Ramprakash and Mark Butcher are quality players but there is a huge gulf in experience down to people like Laurie Evans.

Chris has assembled an extremely good backroom staff including Graham Thorpe, Martin Bicknell and Ian Salisbury, who is the second team coach; now it's down to the players to buy into what Chris and the guys are trying to do.

Responsibility

The likes of Scott Newman and James Benning are no longer inexperienced youngsters. Scott was left out of the first Championship game against Gloucestershire, recalled this week and scored a hundred against Derbyshire. That's the perfect response.

It's a big year for him; it's his responsibility not just to smash 70s and 80s but to go on and get big hundreds in Championship AND one-day cricket. Benning, Newman and Usman Afzaal - these guys are key components for moving Surrey forward on the field for the next two seasons.

Chris' philosophy is simple: work bloody hard and work harder. Play with passion and discipline and don't leave any stone unturned.

That's how it was done at Sussex and, while Surrey and Sussex are two very different counties both on and off the field, that ethos is applicable at the Oval.

The key thing missing at Surrey is discipline, hard work and a desire to succeed.

When Surrey were winning titles around the turn of the millennium, the dressing room was littered with international players and experience but come pre-season everyone was as fit as a fiddle.

You weren't told at the start of every season 'you must come back and do 12 on the bleep test'; it was self-motivational - you didn't want to be embarrassed because Adam Hollioake was running 15 on the bleep test and you could only manage 11.

That type of attitude simply wouldn't cut it. The dressing room provided its own motivation - that was part of the ferocious success that Surrey had.

You can only structure a training session so much as a coach; after that, the onus falls on the individual. It comes down to personal pride.

Bonus

Andre Nel is an outstanding acquisition; Surrey have been very lucky, very canny in signing him. Experienced, fast bowlers of that quality are few and far between on the county circuit because if they are English - James Anderson, for example - they go and play for England.

The days of getting overseas fast bowlers such as Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram are gone because international cricket is so full on that they just don't have the time.

Twenty years ago a Brett Lee would have played two or three seasons of county cricket but that doesn't happen anymore because the schedule is too full. To sign someone who is still young, fit and - injury permitting - he is going to be around all season for three years is a massive bonus.

Moreover, I hope for Michael Brown's sake that Mark Butcher can get fit soon and return to lead the side because that would relieve him of the captaincy and allow him to get on with his job, which is to score runs at the top of the order.

He is an impressive character, a very good player but if he wants to kick on he probably does not need the burden of captaincy at this stage. For his development, as well as Surrey's, it's important that Butch gets back on the field as soon as possible.