NEW-LOOK Surrey know they require a fresh recipe for success if they are to win the LV County Championship.

Rory Burns’ side headed into the opening clash with defending champions Warwickshire at Edgbaston – starting on Thursday – having won just five matches out of 32 since their own title triumph in 2018.

There’s no shortage of new faces in dressing room. Not only have veterans Rikki Clarke, Jade Dernbach and Liam Plunkett retired but fellow international Mark Stoneman has departed to Middlesex, which will give the club’s younger generation – spearheaded by Jamie Smith – the opportunity to show what they’re about.

Maintaining the turnover, head coach Vikram Solanki headed off to run IPL side Gujarat Titans while bowling coach Richard Johnson has returned to head a revival of Middlesex.

Gareth Batty, the veteran off-spinner who retired last year, steps up to become interim head coach alongside former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood and ex-Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton.

There are still plenty of familiar faces though – Alec Stewart remains director of cricket, where he will be expected to improve considerably on last year’s lacklustre showing, while Surrey open the season not only with South African batting maestro Hashim Amla leading the batting but West Indian speedster Kemar Roach back to spearhead a bowling attack which looked disturbingly toothless without him last year.

This summer sees a return to a two-divisional County Championship after two pandemic-affected seasons, a conference system last summer seeing Surrey finish fourth out of six in their qualifying group and then one off the bottom in the second stage. They also failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast T20, more encouragement coming from reaching the semi-finals of the Royal London Cup led by Smith.

So what’s going to make the difference this time? Burns and Ollie Pope, heavy scorers at domestic level over the past four years, will be particularly determined to regain their England places lost on the disastrous Ashes tour while wicketkeeper Ben Foakes needs runs the improve his chances of staying in the Test set-up after his call-up for the recent tour of West Indies.

If Roach can maintain the form which brought him 22 wickets in five outings last season, he should gain greater support from the likes of tall left-armer Reece Topley and fellow southpaw Sam Curran, whose return to fitness from a stress fracture in the back means he will bat only initially but is bursting to get ball in hand again. New signing Dan Worrall has been delayed in Australia by family problems, missing the early weeks, which gives the likes of Conor McKerr the opportunity to stake a claim while Surrey possess two excellent young spinners in Amar Virdi and Dan Moriarty.

Smith, Surrey’s player of the season last year, looks set to open alongside Burns – when not deputising for Foakes with the gloves – while left-hander Ryan Patel has opened the season with a glut of runs.

Batty emphasised that much work has been going into raising fitness levels after the past two disrupted seasons, which have brought a glut of injuries as well as international calls. They hope England white ball opener Jason Roy will be return from a break – to work on his mental health – in time for the start of the Blast in late May, which is when Tom Curran should also be ready following back trouble.

Starting the Championship with Warwickshire followed by visits from Somerset (April 14-17) and Hampshire (April 21-24) is no easy launch but if Surrey can equal the sum of their parts then the summer has much promise.