County news July 19, 2012

Solanki to join Surrey for 2013

Vikram Solanki is to leave Worcestershire at the end of the 2012 season and will join Surrey on a two-year contract. Solanki, the former England limited-overs player and former Worcestershire captain, made his first team debut in 1993 but, after 20 years with the club, is out of contract at the end of this season and was recently given permission to talk to other counties.

"I'm incredibly grateful to Worcestershire for giving me my chance all of those years ago," Solanki said. "I have many, many fond memories with the club both on and off the pitch, with players, staff and supporters alike and the decision to end our long relationship has not been easy.

"In recent weeks, with my contract ending and the club unsure of their direction for me, I've been able to discuss opportunities with interested counties. It's been from these discussions that Surrey have offered me an exciting chance to finish my career at The Oval."

Solanki's attraction to Surrey is obvious. The club have recently lost three of their first-choice batsmen: Tom Maynard, to a tragic accident; the club captain and Maynard's flatmate, Rory Hamilton-Brown, to long-term compassionate leave; and Mark Ramprakash to retirement. Solanki's class as a batsman - he has scored over 16,000 first-class runs - and his leadership ability will both prove of value to a club currently struggling to regain equilibrium after a chastening few weeks.

There may be some raised eyebrows at the signing. Solanki is 36 years old and is averaging just 26 in this Championship season. But he enjoyed an excellent 2011, scoring more than 1,100 runs at an average in excess of 40, while he remains an effective top-order player in limited-overs cricket. He is averaging in excess of 40 in List A cricket this season.

His departure will also cause some consternation at New Road. Always a popular player, many at Worcestershire wanted to retain Solanki's services but, at a club where finance remains an on-going issue, the cost of such an experienced cricketer's salary was a significant factor.

Worcestershire's chief executive, David Leatherdale, said: "It is with regret that Worcestershire and Vikram Solanki have agreed that he will leave the county at the end of the present season. Vikram approached the club a few weeks ago with regards his future, as his contract ends this September, and it was expressed at that time that the county would not be in a position to offer a contract but hoped to be in a position to do so later in the year when the financial position is clearer.

"The club fully understood Vikram's wish to have greater certainty about his future and gave permission for him to talk to other counties. The club and its supporters thank Vikram for his 20 years of service to the county, and for his elegant batting and successful captaincy. Vikram will always receive a warm welcome at New Road and we wish him the very best for the future."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo