Surrey honour 20 of their greats
The regeneration of Surrey's headquarters at The Oval will include an honouring of its previous generations, after it was announced that the club intends to name certain sections of the newly rebuilt Vauxhall End after 20 of its greatest players.
The Oval staged its first Test match in 1880, making it the oldest Test venue in the northern hemisphere. But until last season, when it began a massive redevelopment ahead of this summer's Ashes series, it was beginning to look its age as well, especially at the long-neglected Vauxhall End, which had changed little since Surrey's heyday in the 1950s.
All that has now changed, with the state-of-the-art OCS Stand dominating the Western skyline. The entrance from the Harleyford Road will be through the newly inaugurated Alec Stewart Gate, named in honour of the Surrey and England stalwart who played a record 133 Tests in a 13-year international career.
Stewart retired after playing in England's series-levelling victory against South Africa at The Oval in 2003, which means there are just three current players among the 20 illustrious names - Graham Thorpe and Mark Butcher, who toured with England this winter, and Martin Bicknell, who also featured in the 2003 series.
Two overseas players are among the list - Saqlain Mushtaq, who was instrumental in Surrey winning three County Championship titles in four years between 1999 and 2002 (their first successes since 1971); and the West Indian Sylvester Clarke, who terrorised the county circuit for nine seasons from 1979 to 1988, but died in December 1999 aged 44.
The great names of Surrey's past include two more England captains in Douglas Jardine and Percy Fender, as well as the great opening batsman of the 1960s and 70s, John Edrich, and the former club president and captain in the 1950s, Stuart Surridge.
In addition, two function rooms have been renamed. Micky Stewart, Alec's father and a former England opening batsman and coach, now lends his name to the "Micky Stewart Surrey Clubs' Room" (formerly the Sydney Room), while the Long Room Bar has been renamed "Ali Brown 268 Bar", in recognition of Brown's phenomenal hitting in a now-legendary C&G Cup tie against Glamorgan in 2002.
The club will announce the official openings through the course of the season.