Vikram Solanki will give Worcestershire's hopes for the county championship season a huge boost with an unexpectedly premature return to action in today's Division Two opener against Somerset at New Road.
The England one-day specialist looked likely to miss the first fortnight of the season when he returned last week from international duty with a broken finger.
After two days of practice, however, he is satisfied it will not hamper his batting but he is likely to be kept out of his customary place in the slip cordon.
County coach Steve Rhodes says that, having lost Solanki only for Sunday's Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy win against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, it will be a bonus to have him back.
"Vikram's an important part of the team but, from the dressing-room point of view, it's even more important to have our captain back," he said.
"Gareth Batty did a fine job on Sunday, as he has on the past occasions when he has filled in, but I had almost given up having Vikram back in action so soon. I was expecting him to miss this one and the game with Lancashire on Monday."
Worcestershire are in need of a good start after last summer's slump in the second half of the season. But Solanki is still in danger of being overshadowed by Marcus Trescothick's latest step on his much-publicised road to recovery.
Trescothick, back parading his wares in a rare stint of county duty for Somerset following his troubled winter, was out twice in the day against Gloucestershire last Thursday, but he scored 158 in the C&G Trophy on Sunday against Kent.
Rhodes is wary of the England opener having hit form at what might prove just the wrong moment Worcestershire.
"I don't know about it putting a few extra bums on seats," Rhodes said. "But having Marcus Trescothick playing certainly looks like filling a few extra seats in the press box.
"I know he had a couple of failures last week, but he's now coming into this game on the back of a hundred and you've always got to respect any player of his ability."
Solanki's return comes at the expense of Roger Sillence. The Worcestershire skipper will bat at No 3, with Steven Davies dropping back down to No 6 and Graeme Hick keeping his new place in the order at No 5.
It will be the start of Hick's 23rd and, he says, still not necessarily his last season in county cricket.
Daryl Mitchell, one of the county's two home-grown talents, is again rewarded for an encouraging winter in grade cricket in Perth by being invited to open the batting with Stephen Moore.
Spinner Ray Price is in the 12 but, if the pitch looks as seamer-friendly as Rhodes hopes, the home side will rely on a four-man seam attack, in which overseas signing Zaheer Khan will make his home debut.