Michael Di Venuto: Surrey can 'mix it with best' in Division One

Di Venuto eyes Surrey challenge

New Surrey head coach Michael Di Venuto says his squad have the ability to challenge for the title in Division One of the County Championship.

Surrey were promoted as champions of the second tier last season, and begin life back in the top division at Nottinghamshire on Sunday.

"We are certainly looking to build on last year and play a good brand of cricket," Di Venuto told BBC London.

"We have the talent, from what I have seen so far, to mix it with the best."

Di Venuto was appointed by Surrey in February, leaving his post as lead batting coach with Cricket Australia.

The 42-year-old, who won the Championship title twice during his playing career at Durham, replaced Graham Ford after the South African left the county after two years for a second stint coaching Sri Lanka.

"They have developed nicely under Graham and I am very lucky to take them over at this stage," Di Venuto added.

"I know it is a hard division. It is going to be a good challenge for this group and what they have come from over the last couple of years.

"I'd like us to be up there challenging. If you win games and get a bit of confidence, you don't know where that can take you."

A potent attack

Surrey begin 2016 with the two leading wicket-takers from Division Two last season in their bowling attack.

Tom Curran took 76 wickets at an average of 23.07 as Surrey won the title, while left-armer Mark Footitt took the same number at 23.63 for Derbyshire, whom he left for Surrey over the winter.

Sam Curran and Tom Curran
Tom Curran (right) was Surrey's leading wicket-taker in the Championship last season with 76 while his younger brother Sam (left) took 22

Captain Gareth Batty says "anything is possible" for the side this season.

"It is a very exciting time with a group of players coming together and the vast majority, barring myself, will be around for a long time to come," the 38-year-old spinner added.

"We have seen Mark in the last month and he has been magnificent. He has got everything. He has pace, he swings it both ways and he knows what he is doing.

"Fundamentally we are going in a very good direction. The blueprint won't be changing drastically."