Andrew Strauss will open the batting for Somerset today in a guest appearance necessitated by his own poor form and the bizarre vagaries of the fixture schedule. Had the county declined Strauss's request to play in the tour match against India, he might well have gone three weeks without an innings before the first Test at Lord's next Thursday.
The unusual arrangement suits both parties. Strauss not only gets some cricket but, as England's captain, a look at India. Somerset are expecting a huge spectator influx because of Strauss's presence and have ordered plenty of county shirts for him to sign.
Strauss said: "It's not a gamble. I haven't played for three weeks so it was crucial for me to be able to play some cricket this week. Thankfully this opportunity came up, otherwise I would probably be playing a second-team game for Middlesex somewhere."
The county are fielding a strong side for the three-day match and, although Strauss' former England opening partner Marcus Trescothick will be absent, the rest of their batting line-up is likely to play. It would be a surprise if India did not play an XI close to their Test team, which will probably include Sachin Tendulkar.