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December 6, 2008
Surrey's captain, Mark Butcher, has called on the county's younger players to prove they can reach the top level of the domestic and international game.
"We have had a pretty lean time here in terms of having exceptionally talented young guys coming through and that has to change," he told the Croydon Guardian. "You can have all the talent and coaching in the world, but there comes a time when the players have to apply that and take it forward themselves.
"Batting coach Graham Thorpe and myself know only too well what it takes to reach the highest level and at times some of our youngsters have not appreciated that."
During what was a thoroughly disappointing season, Surrey handed Matt Spriegel a two-year contract on the basis of a promising start to his first-class career, yet were forced to release Neil Saker. Saker, 24, joined in 2003 but managed just 18 first-class matches during an injury-hit stay. His best performance was 5 for 76 against Lancashire in 2007.
"The likes of Arun Harinath and Laurie Evans have the potential to blossom, while Matt Spriegel has shown he has the technique and temperament to progress," said Butcher. "They will be given their chance, but it is not just a case of giving players 10 games to establish themselves. Players have to know that they will only get that chance if they score runs or take wickets."
Butcher himself started the season impressively, averaging 57.88 in ten matches, but without him at the helm Surrey endured a disastrous campaign. They failed to win a Championship match all season, and Mark's father, Alan, was sacked as coach after their relegation to Division Two.
Butcher expected to be back in action come March, and hoped Surrey would also change around their fortunes. "It is an exciting tome for the club and the chance to build a proper future. We might be able to look back in six years time and say relegation was the best thing to happen to us," he said. "We are good enough to get promoted. The worst case scenario for me would be if we fail to go up and don't discover performers outside of the core we already have."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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