Surrey’s Stuart Meaker is a bowler that generates plenty of pace. At 29, however, hopes of an England Test call-up diminish with each niggle.
The injuries are considered simply part of the job for a quick bowler, but he’s had worse luck than most in this area.
Consequently he is ideally suited to short bursts to protect his body, and to ensure he can maintain the high speeds and intimidating spells that marked him out as England’s next genuine quick bowler during his formative years.
Following recent career decisions from Adil Rashid and Alex Hales, you may think you know what’s coming next. But you’d be wrong.
Meaker isn’t heading off down the one-day glamour route, but instead has signed for New Zealand side Auckland Aces for the whole month of March in a bid to get some overs in competitive first-class cricket under his belt.
Auckland will be hoping it will improve their chances of topping the Plunket Shield table. They currently sit third and Meaker will be available for four of their five remaining games, including a big clash at home to second placed Central Districts.
A successful period and he should be ready to hit the ground running when Surrey get underway on 20th April against Hampshire at the Oval.
The opportunity arose on the back of a recommendation from teammate Sam Curran, who represented Auckland in their T20 competition (Super Smash) that concluded in January this year.
It’s a brave move from both Surrey and Meaker, opting for an intense month of first class cricket just weeks before the season begins, this for a player that has been hampered throughout his career with various injuries.
Pace bowlers will inevitably pick up strains and twinges along the way, but a fully fit and firing Stuart Meaker can be such a useful weapon for Surrey and they surely believe this is an opportunity to try and get the best out of the Surrey quick.
He has averaged just fewer than eight County Championship games a season for Surrey in the last five years, and Surrey will hope if he is more cricket-hardened then they will reap the rewards in terms of him maintaining fitness and gaining improved consistency.
Last season was tough on the whole for Meaker; his 21 wickets came at a cost in excess of 41 per wicket and, while it’s generally accepted that the quick bowler may at times be expensive, his strike rate of a wicket near enough every 10 overs must be improved upon in 2018.
With that in mind, a month blowing away the cobwebs and roughing up a few batsmen in the Plunket Shield seems like ideal preparation in what could be a big year for Stuart Meaker.