Solanki smitten by Smith signing
When Vikram Solanki signed for Surrey he did not have an inkling that he would be captained by the skipper of the top-ranked Test team.
If Solanki had been given that news on July 20, when his move from Worcestershire was announced, he may have guessed that would have meant Andrew Strauss joining Surrey.
It was not until November 1 that Surrey revealed their capture of Smith on a three-year deal, but Solanki knew before then of the monumental signing that has been compared to Shane Warne joining Hampshire almost a decade earlier.
Asked if he was aware of a move for Smith when he signed for Surrey, Solanki exclusively told ecb.co.uk: "Not at the time but it became apparent quite quickly after that those discussions were being had.
"And that just reiterates exactly the ambition that the club has when you have the captain of the number-one Test side in the world coming to join your squad.
"That can only be a good thing, and in particular when it is somebody that carries the respect to the degree that Graeme Smith has throughout the world of cricket, both as a player and as a leader.
"That is something to be excited about for everybody who is involved at Surrey."
Smith signing for Surrey came after Rory Hamilton-Brown relinquished the captaincy and left the club due to the tragic death of close friend and team-mate Tom Maynard.
Although Gareth Batty led Surrey for the second half of a summer in which they retained LV= County Championship top-flight status, team director Chris Adams moved for Smith.
"It must have been a very difficult time," Solanki, Batty's former Worcestershire team-mate, said of Maynard's passing.
"I obviously wasn't part of the group when they were going through that difficult year last year, but I appreciate how difficult for everyone to deal with last year was.
"Now, since my formal involvement, me being down here and starting training, it's a hugely exciting time. Everybody I think is looking forward to the season and getting started with this group of players, with Graeme leading us."
Solanki's move, after 20 years at New Road, came about because, with his contract due to expire at the end of the 2012 campaign, Worcestershire were unable to confirm there would be a new deal offered.
The 36-year-old former England batsman has signed for two years at Surrey, one of the most successful counties whose last trophy was the 2011 Clydesdale Bank 40.
"What was most important on my decision to come to Surrey - and to be honest it wasn't a very difficult decision to make once I'd had conversations with Surrey - was for me to have an opportunity to join a club that has a team and a squad that clearly has good ambitions to win trophies, and also be part of a club that has the history that Surrey has," he explained.
"And also, as important, was the fact that there are some fantastic cricketers and fantastic guys within that dressing room and I'm really looking forward to playing with them and working hard towards hopefully success in the future for Surrey."
Solanki will be part of a new-look batting line-up following the retirement of Mark Ramprakash, Hamilton-Brown's move and Maynard's passing.
Yet the classical right-handed batsman is also looking forward to playing in the same side as some accomplished bowlers.
"It's not just the batting line-up that excites me," Solanki revealed.
"When you speak of the bowling attack for instance, there are good seam and spin options throughout the squad with a real blend of experience and young lads at different stages of their career.
"All of those guys. Not just being part of the batting line-up, being part of the team is something that excites me. Clearly I'm looking forward to being part of that."
One of the seam bowlers Solanki refers to, Chris Tremlett, will train in Potchefstroom, South Africa, with the England potential players fast bowling camp this month as he steps up his comeback from knee surgery at the end of last season.