Surrey prepare to become Kohli's gym rats
News from around the circuit, including what Surrey can expect from Virat Kohli, the death of an umpire who became embroiled in a ball tampering affair, and why Stuart Broad won't be entering Fantasy Cricket
Surrey are one of the clubs who still believe that their players should earn rather than expect a county cap but it is unlikely that Virat Kohli will be made to wait for his when he arrives at the Oval next month.
Kohli will be county cricket's biggest box office attraction since Shane Warne last played for Hampshire 11 years ago. Apart from putting bums on seats, Kohli will use his six-match stint to acclimatise before India's Test series in England later in the summer.
Surrey's players will also have the opportunity to learn from the best, particularly the fitness regime that Kohli has developed to drive him to the top.
"Around 30 minutes before the bus leaves for a match he does what he calls a 'priming session' in the gym," England all-rounder Chris Woakes, a team-mate of Kohli's at Royal Challengers Bangalore, told The Guardian.
"It's like a short burst of Olympic weightlifting. It's certainly different but it works for him. Overall his fitness work is having a serious impact on the next generation of Indian players. He's leaner, fitter and more agile than those before."
Don Oslear, the former Grimsby fish docks worker who rose through the umpiring ranks to stand in five Tests and eight one day internationals, has died aged 89.
Oslear was known as a no-nonsense umpire during his 19 years on the county list but his no-nonsense stance against alleged ball tampering led to his career ending in controversy in 1993.
Oslear claimed that the ball had been changed during a one day international between England and Pakistan at Lord's, where he was reserve umpire, in 1992 because it had been scarred by illegal means.
He also revealed further incidents of alleged ball tampering at county level in 'Tampering With Cricket' which was co-written with Jack Bannister and published in 1996.
Despite making life uncomfortable for the authorities, Oslear sat on an MCC working party which redrafted the laws of cricket in 2000.
Stuart Broad made headlines when he topped a Fantasy Premier League football table last week but the England pace bowler is banned from using his expertise to enter similar competitions in cricket.
ECB anti-corruption regulations prevent all contracted players and county employees from entering fantasy cricket league competitions where there is an entry fee and prize money at stake.
"It's very much a 'better safe than sorry' approach to prevent people involved in the game putting themselves at unnecessary risk," said an ECB spokesman.
All players and employees were reminded of their responsibilities in an email from James Pyemont, the ECB's new head of integrity, on the eve of the new season.
Pyemont, a former Sussex and Derbyshire batsman, has joined the ECB as successor to Chris Watts, another former Metropolitan Police detective, who has moved to the British Horse Racing Authority.
Broad's fantasy football success came as manager of Selby Forest who earned him 180 points. In real life Broad is a long-suffering fan of Nottingham Forest who finished 17th of 24 in the Championship.
County players appear to have been on their best behaviour so far this season with no reports of any being sent off under the new Law 42 at either first team or second team level.
Not so at club level where the ECB have revealed that one batsman was ordered off for eight overs during a recent Royal London Club Championship match.
The ECB have declined to provide details but have confirmed that it was for a level three breach - intimidating an umpire by language or gesture or threatening to assault a player or any other person except an umpire - the second most serious offence under the revised laws which came into force in October.
The offending player's captain was called onto the field, the fielding side were awarded five penalty runs and the batsman eventually resumed his innings at the fall of a wicket after following his eight over suspension.
The umpires submitted a report to the ECB and the player is now serving a five match ban.
Paul Nixon's delight at his first win as Leicestershire's head coach was evident in a post-match press conference which sounded like an Oscars' acceptance speech.
Having suffered defeat after making Durham follow on the previous week, Leicestershire held their nerve to cling on for their first win in two years, edging out Glamorgan by three runs at Grace Road.
"It's a win for the whole club, those on the field and off it. This is for the groundsmen, the marketing team, our chief executive Wasim Khan, the members and spectators, many of whom were still here at 7.30pm. It's for everyone," Nixon said.
Nixon is Leicestershire's third head coach in as many seasons. Leicestershire hope his effervescent personality will lift morale and he has enlisted the help of a former SAS officer to improve trust and communication between his players.
"If you are sitting next to a bloke for six months we want to make sure you can put your arm around him or give him a kick up the backside," Nixon said.
The ECB seem to believe that 100-balls is the way forward for county cricket but the Minor Counties are discovering that Twenty20 still pulls in the crowds after belatedly embracing the format.
After a brief and half-hearted flirtation with T20 cricket three years ago, when their competition was played with red balls and white clothing, the Minor Counties Cricket Association have adopted the playing format used for county Second XI T20 with two matches in a day, white balls and coloured clothing.
The early signs are encouraging with increased attendances across the country and plenty of entertainment, not least at Jesmond where Northumberland's two matches against Lincolnshire produced 970 runs in the day, including 58 sixes - and six lost balls - with all four innings exceeding 200.
Lincolnshire's Louis Kimber scored a century in each match with his 274 runs coming from just 100 balls. Kimber's efforts eclipsed those of Northumberland's Phil Mustard, the former Durham, Gloucestershire and England one day international wicketkeeper/batsman, who scored 186 runs from 99 balls over the two games.
Chris Read's outstanding service to Nottinghamshire has been acknowledged with the commission of a portrait painted by another former England wicketkeeper, Jack Russell.
Read retired at the end of last season after 20 years with Nottinghamshire, eight of them as captain, and is now coaching at Uppingham School.
Russell's painting of Read will be displayed in the Trent Bridge pavilion.