We journalists are often black and white in our judgements. On Tuesday morning the headlines read: 'Surrey crash to opening defeat' and 'Brave new Surrey go meekly in second innings'. Why not credit Derbyshire for putting in a thoroughly commanding performance? Nothing changes, sports journalists have little time for cricket and cricket journos have even less time for Surrey. Surrey only mustered 165 in their second dig, but they were never going to make 374. It was all about whether they could bat for 76 overs. In the end, Derbyshire won with just 35 balls to spare. Given that they had Surrey seven down with 27 overs to go, you could say the visitors made heavy weather of things. Talking about the weather, I did find it satisfying that, despite the ECB's latest efforts to marginalise the County Championship, not an over of play was lost to the elements. Indeed, there was the rare sight on the opening day of the championship season of male torsos being bared in the Peter May Enclosure. It would have been interesting to see how things would have turned out had Surrey been in a position to field their first choice eleven. With Michael Brown sidelined, Matthew Spriegel got the nod. Other than Mark Ramprakash, Spriegs was the pick of Surrey's top order. In both innings the efforts of new signings Steven Davies and Gareth Batty suggested they should both be going in higher up. Despite the absence of Iftikhar, Tremlett and Jordan, I thought the seamers stuck to their task manfully. At the end of day one Derbyshire were 306-5. Last season that would have been more like 406-5. A number of people have asked me what is meant by Surrey's official line on Chris Tremlett - that his workload is being managed. For me, the decision to give Tremlett a three-year contract was a bigger gamble than appointing Rory Hamilton-Brown as captain. There is absolutely no doubt that Tremlett has the potential to be a destructive fast bowler, but you only have to look at his stats in recent years to see that he misses more than his fair share of games because of injury. The word is that he will make his debut for Surrey at Whitgift, a place where spectators are allowed to come on to the pitch during lunch and tea. During the Derbyshire game it was pleasing to see it is now possible to do so at the Brit Oval - an isolated example of common sense prevailing over concerns about health and safety. The members did have something to grumble about, though. The Oval no longer has a betting shop, which didn't go down well on the day of the Grand National. I should point out that this development is in no way linked to the betting scandal currently brewing at Essex!

Some people are wondering if there's a reason, other than "technical difficulties", why Surrey have stopped putting match highlights on their website. With a record of played two, lost two, it's probably not advisable to see what's been going on if you suffer from high blood pressure. Last weekend's defeat to Sussex prompted some scathing comments on the messageboards and in blogs, but there's a heck of a lot more cricket to come. Unlike the period from 1873 to 1887, the County Championship isn't decided on the basis of 'least matches lost'. In the last three years, six wins have been enough for promotion and there are still fourteen games to play in the champo. Judging by his body language on Surrey TV, Chris Adams was dissatisfied with the performance at Hove, but, as he said, everyone needs to keep things in perspective. Having won just one championship game in two seasons, I was amazed to see Surrey installed as joint favourites for Division Two going into the campaign. Adams referred more than once to the missed chance off Martin-Jenkins early on day three. As so often seems to be the case, the unlucky bowler was Jade Dernbach, who would probably have over a hundred first-class wickets to his name by now, rather than 88, had he been playing for another county in recent seasons. I fully expect the Lions to be a tougher proposition in limited-overs cricket this summer. This Sunday sees the start of the 40-over League and, with Andrew Symonds on board, even bigger things are expected of Surrey in the Twenty20 Cup. Recently, there have been a number of stories linking Brian Lara with the Lions' Twenty20 campaign. Personally, I think it would be a big gamble to sign Lara, who has only made one hundred since the end of 2006. Surrey should take a leaf out of Hampshire's book. The Rose Bowl outfit have gone for Shahid Afridi and are close to signing Brett Lee. When Kabir Ali joined Hampshire in January he described them as the "Manchester United of cricket", which, not that long ago, was the label given to Surrey. If it's a question of putting bums on seats then Lara would be a huge draw, but true fans want to see the Surrey Lions not the Harlem Globetrotters.

My mum doesn't watch Surrey very often, but as Whitgift School is just down the road and as there was every chance of seeing Snake Hips (that's Mark Ramprakash to you and me), she came along to see the final day of the championship match against Worcestershire and the 40-League contest with Lancashire. In terms of county cricket at its best, I don't think she could have picked two better days. Both were enlivened by Rory Hamilton-Brown - maybe he'll appear on Strictly Come Dancing one day. Hardly anyone arriving at the ground on Saturday did so expecting to see an enthralling final day against Worcestershire, but RHB's sporting declaration, not to mention his superb catch to dismiss Phil Jaques for a pair, meant that you couldn't take your eyes off the action for a moment. On Sunday, whites gave way to blacks - the Lions' new one-day shirt is black with traces of green and white - but the entertainment level was just as high. Surrey's fielding display was out of the top draw and if the Lions had been set more than seven an over last season, they would have crumpled. With Hamilton-Brown opening the batting alongside Steven Davies it's not just a new-look Surrey, but a Surrey capable, in one-day cricket, of beating the best. Lancashire were daunting 40-League opening game opponents, but the skipper's transcendent 92 off 64 balls, which contained five sixes and 8 fours, seemed to transmit a new found confidence to the rest of the team. Although the Lions scraped home with one ball to spare, the result will have not gone unnoticed around the county circuit.

When I got hold of a copy of the ECB's proposals for the County Championship last week I had to check it wasn't dated April the first. Furthermore, there was no indication of who put the document together. We all know Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and that Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin. Those were discoveries to be celebrated. Conversely, the reason why nobody knows who invented the speed camera is because it hasn't made our roads safer. I can therefore guarantee that no one at the ECB will own up to the five proposals put forward for next season's championship, three of which are complete non-starters. Unlike any other case for change it doesn't even list a "do nothing" option. Why? Because the ECB want to cut the amount of championship cricket - not so that we can start the season later or finish it earlier, but because they want to convert eight days of four-day cricket into eight more one-day matches. I suspect a lot of the players are keen to see a top division of eight sides playing each other twice and a second tier of ten playing 13 instead of 16 four-dayers. But what the ECB has failed to let on is that they want to resurrect plans to introduce a second Twenty20 competition. I gather Surrey will be lobbying the ECB to include a sixth option that preserves the status quo - two divisions of nine playing each other home and away, with promotion and relegation. Any other format will just not produce the England internationals of tomorrow. That, after all, is the whole point of the County Championship in the first place.

Having witnessed two Surrey batting collapses in the Gloucestershire match, there was a worrying sense of déjà vu last Sunday when Surrey slumped to 135-6 against the Bangladeshis. But, thankfully, Matthew Spriegel came to the rescue, abetted by Stuart Meaker, who followed up his career best 5-48 against Gloucestershire with his highest score to date. However, let's focus on Spriegel, who, don't forget, made his unbeaten 108 against an international attack. In 2008, Alan Butcher's final term as Surrey's manager, Spriegs appeared in nine out the last ten championship matches. Since then he has only been handed a further eight championship starts and, on occasions, has been forced to bat out of position. Given the frailty shown by Surrey's middle order in three of the opening four championship matches this summer, the case for batting Spriegel at seven is growing. Steven Davies has started the season in superb form, but in the Gloucestershire match he ran out of partners in the first innings and resorted to hitting out in the second dig to avoid the same thing happening again. That is not how Surrey should be employing their second best batsman. Far be it for me to tell Chris Adams his job, but swapping Spriegel for Schofield at number seven for the Middlesex match has to be the way to go.

My overwhelming feeling following the Members' Cricket Forum, which took place before the start of play on Tuesday, was that you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. Chris Adams gave the members a frank assessment of Surrey's season to date before disclosing that Younis Khan was set to join the Lions as overseas player - in time for this Sunday's 40League clash against Lancashire all being well. But the reaction to the Younis's signing was surprisingly lukewarm. It wasn't because the Pakistan Cricket Board have been banned him indefinitely from playing international cricket, owing to Pakistan's disastrous winter down under, or that despite being a middle order batsman he could well be pressed into action as an opener. It was because the view of the gathering was that Surrey are more in need of a wicket-taking bowler. As Adams pointed out, Surrey's batting hasn't exactly fired this summer and Younis Khan is someone who not only averages over fifty in first-class cricket, but in Test cricket as well. Adams said it was becoming harder and harder to identify overseas players who are not only available, but who are likely to make the right sort of impact. He said of the outgoing Rao Iftikhar Anjum: "He was a smashing guy and a decent bowler, but he didn't live up to his statistics." Adams also admitted that losing out on Piyush Chawla, who will not now joining the Lions after the Twenty20 Cup, was a big blow. Adams told the members it was still his hope that a world-class spinner can be found to fulfil his plan of fielding two frontline spinners; but, if I'm honest, he didn't sound optimistic. Daniel Vettori's name has been mentioned, but, as a Press Box colleague put it to me, after his stint in the IPL and of captaining New Zealand in the World Twenty20, what would Vettori get out of playing seven championship games for Surrey? The next Members' Forum is due to take place on July 21. It will be interesting to see if Adams is any closer to pleasing all of the Surrey members all of the time.

Those Surrey members who poo-pooed the signing of Younis Khan as overseas player at last week's Members Cricket Forum, arguing that the greater need was a match-winning bowler, were vindicated when Middlesex went on to secure a draw with ease. Not even Chris Tremlett, who, when fit, is currently the pick of Surrey's attack, could trouble Strauss and Newman with the new ball in the visitors' second dig. But, credit where it is due, hopes of a victory only came about thanks to Jade Dernbach's 5-68 on day three. It gave Rory Hamilton-Brown the option of enforcing the follow-on. But, for some reason, he declined, which I found surprising for a captain who has so far shown the inclination to be positive rather than negative. His decision gave Mark Ramprakash another opportunity to punish Middlesex, which he grabbed with both hands by following up his 223 with an unbeaten 103. Ramprakash now holds the championship record for making hundreds in both innings of a match. It is truly a privilege to watch a master of trade at work. Not once in his nine and a bit seasons at the Oval has Ramps's desire to make runs wavered. At the back of my mind, however, is the main reason why he moved to Surrey in the first place - because he couldn't face playing in Division Two of the County Championship. With seven victories normally being enough for promotion, Surrey need to win seven out of eleven. Given the way they started the current match at Northampton, they'll probably travel to Cardiff looking at an ask of seven out of ten. Not even the most optimistic Surrey supporters - I'm told some do actually exist - can see them doing that. I just hope the likelihood of another season in the basement doesn't push Ramprakash into retirement.

When I made the trip up to Northampton to watch days three and four, the last thing I was expecting was a Surrey victory. But thanks to rousing tenth wicket stand between Andre Nel and Jade Dernbach the game was turned on its head. To have won without Chris Tremlett and Stuart Meaker augurs well for the rest of the season. Nel's all-round display was deserving of a man of the match award. But all he got instead was a two-match ban and a £5,000 fine for losing his temper after a catch was dropped off his bowling. Supporters want to see passion being shown and nobody shows it more than Neller, so it worries me that the club have chosen to discipline him. Next week sees the launch of Surrey's Twenty20 campaign. With the competition being expanded from 97 to 151 matches, it's something of a paradox, given that it's the most instant form of the game, to say that this year's tournament will be a marathon rather than a sprint. Qualification for the knockout stages will determined by two regional groups of nine - a North and a South - instead of three divisions of six. A good start is essential. I've got a feeling Surrey will do well. The Lions' one-day form suggests they more than are capable of finishing in the top four in their Group - Hampshire, Somerset and Sussex are the main dangers - and after that all bets are off because the T20 can be a lottery. One of the plusses for Surrey is that other than Steven Davies, who is likely to be selected for the Triangular A Team series at the beginning of July, the Lions will not be inconvenienced by England call-ups. However, it remains to be seen whether Pakistan's Younis Khan will be available. Barring injury, the presence of Andrew Symonds is assured and if the Australian can repeat what he achieved for Kent in 2003 and 2004 and Lancashire in 2005 the Oval outfit should be a force to be reckoned with. Spin, which is another area where Surrey are blessed, can often be a factor. Chris Schofield was the leading T20 wicket-taker in 2008, Gareth Batty gives little away plus Afzaal, Hamilton-Brown and Spriegel are also capable of springing a few surprises. The Lions' odds of 16-1 look like great each way value.

It seems that one week everything's looking rosy and the next week it's doom and gloom again. Surrey's loss to Leicestershire, which didn't even go to a fourth day, was bitterly disappointing. Given the belief and determination they showed to turn things around at Northampton, I really felt good about Surrey's chances of turning over the Foxes. But other than Jade Dernbach's outstanding performance with the ball, there weren't any real positives for Chris Adams to take out of the Leicester game. If the Lions do poorly in the T20, the Surrey manager could well find himself under pressure, even though he's only 18 months into what he has always said is a five-year plan. The T20 will set the tone for the rest of Surrey's season. But, as I wrote in last week's Hook Report, I simply cannot understand why the Lions are 16-1 to lift the T20 trophy. Don't get me wrong, I don't see the Lions winning it, but I'd be surprised if they didn't make the last eight.

Given the start Surrey have made to the T20, one suspects their confidence level is a just notch above that of Robert Green, the England goalkeeper. But, as in the World Cup, it's not how you start the competition, but how you finish it that matters. With twelve group games to come and a top four place in the South Group still very much up for grabs, it would be premature for anyone to write off the Lions. As I have said before, the T20 could well set the tone for the rest of Surrey's season. So, this week's clashes against Middlesex at Lord's then at home to Kent and Sussex take on added significance. Having been booed off after each of their opening two games, few would have given the Lions much of a chance at Taunton last Saturday; especially with Somerset coming off an incredible victory against Hampshire; in which they became the first team in Twenty20 history to successfully defend a total of 104. But thanks to half-centuries from Mark Ramprakash and Younus Khan, and a brilliant effort in the field, Rory Hamilton-Brown's men made relatively short work of the Sabres. Although Surrey fell short a day later against Hampshire, you have to take your hat off to Jimmy Adams, who became only the second batsman ever to make a hundred against the Lions in the Twenty20. Looking on the positive side it was a bad toss to lose - the toss in the opening match against Gloucestershire being another - so, to an extent, things just aren't going Surrey's way at the moment. It's also worth noting that the Lions' 191-9 at the Rose Bowl was their second highest T20 total ever batting second. Hopefully, with a few tweaks to their game plan, Surrey can start silencing the boo boys. So far, Andrew Symonds has been a big disappointment, particularly with the ball. Unlike the rest of the Lions' attack, he doesn't seem to have any variations. Therefore, the first change I'd make would be to employ him just as a batter and to give more overs to the likes of Matthew Spriegel, who, despite being Surrey's most economical bowler, has only sent down five overs in four matches. I also think Symonds should be pushed up the order to number three, where Gareth Batty has been given a go. If and when Symonds comes good it's crucial that he's in for as many overs as possible.

Last week, I'm sure some of you thought I was being overly loyal to my team when I suggested it was premature to write off Surrey's chances in this season's FPT20. The phrase "you win some, you lose some" could not apply more to the Twenty20, which is no respecter of form or reputation. What the T20 does reward, however, is positive cricket. So, after starting with three defeats in their first four games, the Lions have now won three out of their last four to occupy third spot in the South Group. If it stays that way, Surrey will be progress to the knockout phase. Clearly, there's a long way to go before it gets to that stage, but if the Lions could go into the T20 break with victories over Kent and Essex they would surely fancy their chances of reaching the last eight, even in spite of the absence of Jade Dernbach, who is likely to be sidelined for the next month, and Steven Davies, whose impressive form with the bat in all competitions this summer has been rewarded with a call-up for the England A team. As someone who is still adjusting to the razzamatazz of the Twenty20, even though it's been going seven years, there are times when silence at a cricket match is golden. Never is this more fitting than when Surrey are playing away to Kent and Essex, whose fans are without doubt the most partisan you will come across. So, let's hope Rory Hamilton-Brown's men, who have already managed to silence the boo boys, can round off the week in a quietly confident fashion. Finally, I am amazed that Younus Khan hasn't been selected for Pakistan's tour of England. The word coming out of the Surrey dressing room is that he has been a breath of fresh air. With Usman Afzaal struggling for form and no clear indication, yet, of when Michael Brown is going to be fit again, having Younus around, hopefully for the rest of the season, can only be good news for the Ovalites.

There's an adage that a batsman is only as good as his last innings, which is only true to an extent - for instance Mark Ramprakash has made as many ducks in first-class cricket as he has scores over 130. What the saying really means is that if a batsman hits a hundred one day and gets a blob the next, chances are you'll remember what he did last. Driving home from the Oval after the Glamorgan defeat, all I could think about was Surrey's inability to convert 68-1 after six overs into a total up near 200. A plethora of injuries aside, it had been a great week for Rory Hamilton-Brown's men up to that point. A victory against Derbyshire in the championship, followed by a convincing win against the Somerset Sabres in the FPT20, but then defeat at the hands of one of the sorrier-looking teams in this summer's T20. It wasn't difficult to tell that the Welshmen had been struggling. The other day their head coach, Matthew Maynard, was moaning about the format of this season's competition. The previous week, Gloucestershire's Jon Lewis described the T20 schedule as "madness". Funny that, given that the Gladiators have also failed to make an impression. Looking at the South Group table, Sussex, Essex and Somerset appear to be as good as through to the last eight, which means Surrey now need to win more games than Hampshire in the run in. I never thought it would come to this, but I might even start cheering on Middlesex next week. The Panthers are playing Hampshire home and then away. Mind you, it wouldn't exactly help Surrey's cause if Middlesex finished the group strongly. So, first things first, the Lions really need to go into this Sunday's visit to Arundel with a victory in the London derby.

Looking back over past Surrey successes, the defining moments in most of the triumphant campaigns were the matches Surrey won by a slender margin. In 1996, it was the last ball victory over Northants, in 2000 it was sneaking home by a couple of runs against Hampshire and in 2002 it was beating Kent by two wickets at Canterbury. If, as now seems likely, the Lions miss out on a place in the quarter-finals of the FPt20, they will reflect upon the narrow defeats, both at home and away, to Essex and Glamorgan. Winning close games breeds confidence. Similarly, losing close games triggers doubt and insecurity. All too often, I'm afraid to say, Surrey have looked hesitant this summer; not just in Twenty20, but also in the championship. Six weeks ago, Chris Adams said to me: "I think this team can go to the next level without doing too many things differently. It's about making a choice of exerting themselves on the opposition, rather than waiting for a situation to be created." Sadly, we are still waiting to see the best the current Surrey side has to offer. Whilst it would be easy to make a scapegoat of Andrew Symonds, the Aussie all-rounder is another in what is now a growing line of overseas players who, in recent times, have under performed in a Surrey shirt. Three of Adams's four signings last winter have made an impression, though. If Adams could persuade Eoin Morgan to follow the path taken by Mark Ramprakash, of swapping north London for south London, I am sure he will prove to be another piece in the jigsaw. People have asked me why Surrey would want to sign an England regular. In recent times, England have fallen in and out of love with middle order batsmen like Ravi Bopara, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if Surrey saw quite a bit of Morgan, who, at 23, is still serving his apprenticeship at international level.

It's such a shame the Lions missed out on a place in the last eight of the FPt20. The manner in which they rounded off their Twenty20 campaign, by dismantling Sussex and Gloucestershire, just showed they were capable of going all the way. Now it's time to reproduce that level of intensity in the other two competitions. If they can, there's no reason why Surrey can't be pushing for promotion in the LV County Championship and challenging for a semi-final place in the Clydesdale Bank 40League. This Sunday, the two unbeaten sides in Group A of this summer's 40League go head to head at the Brit Oval. Despite losing both of their FPt20 group games to Surrey, Somerset earned themselves a home tie in the quarter-finals. But the Lions will be looking to put their T20 disappointments behind them by making it a hat-trick of victories over the Sabres, whose line-up will include the likes of Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter. It has all the makings of an enthralling clash; especially the contest within a contest between Kieswetter and Surrey's Steven Davies, both of whom are breathing down the neck of England's first choice stumper, Matt Prior. Let's hope Somerset will have an eye on Tuesday's T20 quarter-final at Taunton.

In recent years, one thing that has frustrated Surrey managers, and has also been picked up on by the press, has been the standard of Surrey's fielding. Let's just say it could have been better. But this summer it has undergone a transformation. Some of the catches that went to hand on what turned out to be the final day against Northants last week were simply top drawer. Andre Nel, who, for me, is the heartbeat of team, followed up the key wicket of Stephen Peters with two stunning slip catches off Stuart Meaker. The one to dismiss Alex Wakely wasn't just high and to Nel's right. It was also travelling. On another day Tom Lancefield's catch low down at point, or even Usman Afzaal's brilliant effort in covering twenty yards to see the back of James Middlebrook, would have made the following day's match reports in the national papers. But it was fitting that Surrey's most dominant display in four-day cricket for four years ended with Mark Ramprakash claiming the winning catch at mid-on, given that his 248 had set-up the innings victory. Unfortunately, the euphoria of Surrey's third win in four championship matches dissipated when they came up against Somerset in the Clydesdale Bank 40 last Sunday. With the admission price for children being slashed to one pound, there was a decent sized crowd. Sadly, due to Marcus Trescothick teeing off with 69 from 47 balls, they saw the Lions on the back foot throughout. Nevertheless, Matthew Spriegel followed up the hundred he made against Northants with a valiant 53. With teenage batters like Lancefield and Roy breaking into the side, even "old-uns" like the 23-year-old Spriegel have to respond to competition for places.

If Chris Adams is a man under pressure, he wasn't really showing it after last weekend's innings defeat to Middlesex. However, the Surrey manager was perplexed by his team's recent dip in form. The campaign never comes down to one match, but Surrey's fragile display against their arch rivals will not have gone down well with the die-hard fans. The last time they saw Surrey beaten by an innings at Lord's, back in 1995, a petition calling for a change of management forced an Extraordinary General Meeting in October of that year. Although I sense there isn't the same level of unrest amongst the members, it is fair to say that some are looking at the sums of money Surrey have spent on players and coaches and weighing it up against results on the field. In the past, Guildford has often been a key staging post in Surrey's season. Next week's Guildford Festival will be no different. Should the Lions lose to Sussex this Sunday, their only remaining hope of silverware will be gone. Although, as Alec Stewart said at the last members' forum, it's a results business, Surrey's last five championship matches must be used to look at some of the younger players, particularly some of the younger batsmen. The likes of Laurie Evans are too good to be playing second eleven cricket. We won't know if he is good enough to hold down a place in the first team, unless he's given a run in the side.

While it was nice to see Surrey enter the record books for the right reasons last week, the saying "the table doesn't lie" came to mind when the Lions failed to follow up their CB40 victory over Glamorgan with a win against Sussex. Last Sunday's defeat saw Surrey drop to third place in Group A. The Lions haven't been accustomed to being in the top half of any table of late, but, in the Clydesdale Bank 40, only the group winners are guaranteed a semi-final berth. Meanwhile, in Division Two of the County Championship, Surrey currently lie one off the bottom, even though they have three wins under their belts. As much as Chris Adams talks of progress - and a great deal of progress has been made this summer - it will not sit well with the membership if the Oval outfit end the season propping up the table. In their long and rich history, Surrey have never finished bottom of the County Championship. Those who witnessed Laurie Evans hitting hundreds in both innings at Whitgift School a month ago will have difficulty understanding the club's decision to release the 22-year-old. Evans made 156 and 182 not out against Northants' second eleven. In the same match, no other Surrey batsman managed more than 41. Arun Harinath, who has since been recalled to the first team, made 0 and 6. The rumour mill often seems to be on overtime at Guildford, but the whisper is that Evans was not afraid to make his feelings known. As Surrey are blessed with so many up and coming batsmen, it would seem that an example was made of Evans in case anyone else was thinking of piping up. Mark my words, Laurie Evans will have no trouble finding a new county. The former England wicketkeeper Jack Russell was seen at Whitgift and he will almost certainly have gone back to Gloucestershire, for whom he is a scout as well as wicketkeeping coach, with Evans's name in his notebook. The other rumour doing the rounds at Guildford this week is that Usman Afzaal is also on his way out of the Oval, and that Kent's Martin van Jaarsveld is being lined-up as his replacement. Don't get too carried away, though. Like Eoin Morgan, Surrey have gone after van Jaarsveld before only to be given the brush off.

Watching last weekend's Twenty20 finals day brought it home to me how, if Surrey had been a bit more ruthless earlier in the competition they could now be the T20 champions. Three of the last four teams were in the same group as the Lions. Hampshire, who won it, only qualified for the quarter-finals courtesy of a marginally better run-rate than Surrey's. Indeed, the Royals were overwhelmed when they came to the Oval and Somerset, the losing finalists, lost to Surrey home and away. Fifteen years ago, Alan Hansen famously said: "You win nothing with kids." Although he was wrong on that occasion - Manchester United, to whom he was referring, went on to win the Premiership and the Champions League that season - it's fair to say that to win trophies you need a blend of youth and experience. Surrey are lacking that blend at the moment, nevertheless it is heartening to see so many youngsters coming through. Matthew Dunn, who has made just one first team appearance, was in action for the England Under-19s last week. Judging from what I saw on television, it won't be long before he'll be opening the bowling for Surrey. In recent weeks a number of supporters have come up to me and asked: "What do you think of Adams?" What I think they are really asking is: "When are we Surrey going to be winning things again?" In my view, the rebuilding process will take time, so patience is needed. The one thing you can say is that Adams's record on overseas players hasn't been good. If Chris can get put that right next summer, his job will become a whole lot easier.

Just when I thought Surrey would get through to the end of the season without losing again in the championship, they go and get hammered by Worcestershire. The Pears are flirting with promotion, so the result wasn't a complete shock. But the manner of defeat that was astounding. Needing an unlikely 369 runs for victory, Surrey slipped to 66-4 on the third evening. Down the years they have got out of tighter spots with a draw. With the added threat of rain on the final day, one might have expected the visitors to dig in and hope that the weather would come to their aid. But less than ten overs into the last day, the match was over. Having succeeded in spreading the field, Steven Davies and Rory Hamilton-Brown were both caught in the deep. Eight balls later, Gareth Batty drilled Matt Mason straight to cover to make it 119-8, leaving Surrey beyond the point of escape. After match, Chris Adams inferred that if Mark Ramprakash fails the belief isn't always there. In the six matches the Oval outfit have lost in the championship this season, Ramprakash averages 21.66 with the bat. In the others he has averaged 118.66. It would seem, therefore, that Adams has a point. One day, Surrey will have to manage without the run machine. With just a season left on his contract, that day is approaching sooner than many of the fans at the Oval would ideally like. At least we beat the Unicorns in the Clydesdale Bank 40. This Sunday's trip to Taunton might be a slightly bigger test.

So, Kevin Pietersen is now a Surrey player. It will be interesting to see whether his spell with the Lions can develop into a lasting relationship. Sadly, his track record suggests it's unlikely. I have no doubt that, weather permitting, he will score a stack of runs between now and the end of the season. But even if he does the Surrey fans, players and, more importantly, the management at the Oval will want to see if Pietersen still has the appetite for county cricket. Since moving from Nottinghamshire to Hampshire in 2004 he has only made a handful championship appearances. From day one Pietersen has only had his eye on one thing - playing international cricket. No one can blame him for that. But whereas single-mindedness is quality you expect from a golfer or a tennis player, in cricket it can win you few friends. When he sensed that the door was closed for him playing for South Africa, Pietersen came to the UK and, despite rumblings that he wasn't a 'team man', was selected to play for England as soon as he was qualified to do so. He duly played his part in England regaining the Ashes in 2005. But what will concern Chris Adams, who has been at pains to stress that Pietersen is only a fixture at Surrey until the end of the season, is that a more permanent move may be forced upon him. Pietersen has said he wants to be based in London. Given that Middlesex have given him the brush off that only really leaves Surrey, which brings me onto my next point… Hampshire don't want to have anything more to do with Pietersen. Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket has said neither does he. Why is it that Pietersen is detested so much? When he left Nottinghamshire, Pietersen's team-mates threw his kit over the dressing room balcony at Trent Bridge. They also made a pact to give his mobile number to anyone who asked for it. This season, despite a number of injuries, Hampshire turned down the chance to play Pietersen on Twenty20 finals day and were vindicated when they carried off the title without him. Hopefully, Kevin Pietersen realises that it's about time he started winning friends and influencing people. But can a leopard really change his spots? It promises to be a very interesting end to the season at the Oval.

I now have hard evidence that things are improving at Surrey. Every September, members of the Surrey CCC Supporters' Club send me their votes for the end of season awards. Twelve months ago, such was the lack of nominations, I started to wonder if the postmen had gone on strike. But, this year, things are back to normal. Although the player of the season category is unlikely to produce a surprise winner, the voting for young player and most improved player is wide open. It serves to underline that there is a wealth of talent coming through at the Oval. But, on the flip side, there are hardly any Surrey players who can be described as the finished article. Therefore, it's reasonable to expect a freshening up of the squad during the off-season. Last week, Middlesex confirmed that one of Chris Adams's targets, Eoin Morgan, will not be seeking pastures new. But, to everyone's surprise, the north Londoners announced that Owais Shah was being released. Shah would walk into any first team in the country. Surrey have tried to sign him in the past and, with Usman Afzaal half way out of the door, the 31-year-old would be a great catch. Unfortunately, it seems that Shah has set his heart on playing for Lancashire. The England seamer Ryan Sidebottom won't be coming to the Oval either. He's believed to be on the verge of leaving Notts for Sussex. And the whisper that Kent batsman, Martin van Jaarsveld might be tempted away from Canterbury has now turned into a hush. So, the only targets who Surrey are still in contact with are west country seamers Geemal Hussain and Mark Turner. Hardly anyone had heard of Hussain before this season, but the Gloucestershire man currently tops the list of wicket-takers in this year's County Championship. The rumours suggest that Hussain favours a move to Worcestershire. That would just leave Turner who has only made four four-day appearances since moving from Durham to Somerset in 2006. Do Surrey need another one-day bowler? Not really. So, even if Kevin Pietersen is around in 2011, the 'work in progress' sign might still be hanging over the Hobbs Gates in twelve months' time.

It's not difficult to see why Kevin Pietersen has been dropped by England. His 0 and 1 in 25 balls against Glamorgan on a flat Oval wicket underlined just how out of nick he is at the moment. If it were anyone else, he would almost certainly have been dropped for this week's visit to Bristol. Anyway, it was brilliant to see Stewart Walters, whose place in the first team has gone to Pietersen, make hundreds in both innings as the second eleven retained their championship crown. It has also been a good week for Steven Davies, whose 87 and 26 in the first two one-day internationals against Pakistan must have advanced his claims to an Ashes berth this winter. Often, when a Surrey player does well for England it's a double-edged sword, but Davies's deputy, Gary Wilson is having a very strong end to the campaign with the bat as well as the wicketkeeping gloves. The hope must be that Davies is handed a central contract. With much talk at the Brit Oval of a £200,000 cut to next year's cricket budget, it would help with Chris Adams's rebuilding programme if the ECB picked up the tab for Davies. A cut of that magnitude would still leave spending on cricket at a level comparable with 2003, which was a pledge made by the Surrey chairman, David Stewart. Sadly, Stewart will be standing down at the end of the year to make way for the younger, and decidedly more flamboyant Richard Thompson. Stewart was Chairman when Thompson's chairmanship of the cricket committee was blamed for the Oval outfit's decline in fortunes. But that was six years ago and Surrey haven't exactly been in the hunt for silverware since then. Mike Soper, who was chairman when they were the team to beat in county cricket, was always going to be a hard act for Stewart to follow. But like Soper, Stewart showed himself to be someone who not only had Surrey's interests at heart but also those of the members. This was no better underlined when he sought a mandate from the Surrey membership a few months ago on the club's response to the ECB's proposed changes to the County Championship. Have a long and happy retirement, David.

From a Surrey perspective, the 2010 season was hardly a vintage one, but, in time, it could well go down as a defining year for the Oval outfit and their manager, Chris Adams. Back in 1988, when Adams made his first-class debut as a player - for Derbyshire against Surrey - county cricket lacked the intensity of today's arena. Fans knew that championship matches started on Saturdays and Wednesdays and the overseas players were guaranteed to be household names. In that particular match, the respective imports were Sylvester Clarke and Michael Holding - two of the finest fast bowlers the game has ever seen. Also, at the end of the summer, supporters wouldn't demand answers if their team had made little impression. They would simply shrug their shoulders and say: "Oh well, there's always next year." But as the dust begins to settle on another season Matthew Maynard, who manages Glamorgan, is under fire for failing to take the Welshmen up in the championship, while Tim Boon has gone before he was elbowed out of the same job at Leicestershire, despite finishing fourth in Division Two on a budget which is meagre in comparison to the resources Adams has at his disposal; which explains why Chris Adams has been under so much pressure. Another feature of 2010 was the number of county captains who decided to stand down. Assuming Rory Hamilton-Brown continues as skipper - there have been whispers that he would also prefer to go back to the ranks - Surrey could be one of the few counties to start the 2011 campaign with the same captain and manager. If they do, it can only set them up for a serious tilt at promotion in the championship and, who knows, some one-day silverware. But the key will be whether Adams is successful in recruiting a top-order batsman, an overseas spinner and another seamer. Will Porterfield, who topped Gloucestershire's batting averages, is one of the names in the frame. But it's hard to see how, with a £200,000 cut to his cricket budget, it will be possible for Adams to bring Porterfield plus two bowlers to the Oval. So, I'm not getting too excited by the reports linking Surrey with Glamorgan's James Harris, who took 63 championship wickets at 20.52 runs apiece this year. The priority has to be securing the services of an overseas spinner. But there isn't likely to be any news on that score until the spring, as Adams has said he favours leaving it late before committing himself. And what of Kevin Pietersen I hear you ask… well the jury is very much out, but if you asked me to put money on it I'd say that Adams will be persuaded to take him. I hope you winter well. All the very best and see you in 2011, Marcus.