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  1. ITV Report

Worcestershire’s ‘Hannibal’ heads south.

His punditry is just like his batting: calm, considered and elegant. He also has a great sense of humour. Photo: ITV Central

So, after 20 years and nearly 27,000 runs Worcestershire’s Vikram Solanki is to leave the club at the end of the season to start a new chapter at Surrey.

It’s a big blow to a club who, by their own admission, are strapped for cash and to lose such a stalwart to one of ‘them there London clubs’ now speaks volumes about their current position.

Out of contract at New Road at the end of the season, Solanki approached the club several weeks ago to discuss his future.

He was told they weren’t in a position to offer him a new contract, at least until their financial position became clearer. Understandably at 36, Solanki wasn’t prepared to wait.

Solanki made his debut for Worcestershire aged 16 and quickly became identifiable by his graceful and wristy batting style – a product perhaps of his Indian heritage?

He was born in Rajasthan and brought up in Wolverhampton. He captained Worcestershire for five years and made over fifty one-day appearances for England.

I’ve had the opportunity to interview Vikram numerous times and spent several days locked in a tv studio with him when we worked on the 2009 Indian Premier League together.

His punditry is just like his batting: calm, considered and elegant. He also has a great sense of humour.

In 2007, in an attempt to spice up a fairly pedestrian sounding T20 launch at New Road, I asked the then Worcestershire captain if he’d be up for having some fun with it.

We duly turned the piece into a parody of 80’s tv show, ‘The A-Team’ complete with players doing forward rolls while using their bats as pretend machine guns.

Not the most subtle two minutes of television I’ve ever produced, but the players were happy to get into the spirit of it with Vikram content to film repeated takes sliding down a bannister for the mock opening credits.

With Gareth Batty supping champagne as ‘Faceman’ and Lou Vincent fittingly casted as ‘Howlin’ Mad Murdoch’, there was only one role for Vikram – ‘Hannibal Smith’, the charismatic leader of the group.

So, a real shame for the club, the fans and Vikram that he wasn’t able to see out his career at New Road, but Worcestershire’s loss is undoubtedly Surrey’s gain.

They’re getting a batsman of true class with proven leadership credentials.

More importantly, they’re getting a top pro and a thoroughly nice bloke. Good luck ‘Hannibal’. Here’s hoping the plan comes together.

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