So it's ta-ta Tillakaratne and hello to Hamish at Derbyshire, at least for the time being, as we entertain a Sangakkara and Pietersen-free Surrey side at the 3aaa County Ground tomorrow.
The absence of their box-office stars has seen the visitors engage the services of Dean Elgar, a good cricketer who is an enigma (see what I did there, classical buffs?), capable of big runs and periods of drought in equal measure.
Which effectively makes him no different to any other cricketer, as I pointed out below yesterday's piece. There is, when you think about it, a matter of millimeters between a player in form or out of it, between the middle of the bat and its edge. There isn't a player in the world hasn't gone through a period where they can't find the middle of that bat and it has happened to the very best throughout the game's history.
That being the case, what price the rest? One or two of our lads have been out of sorts in recent weeks, but it doesn't make them bad players. By definition, as I have written before, if you are engaged to play professional cricket, you are in the top one per cent of your sport and therefore an extremely good player. None of us, watching from the boundary edge, has any real idea of what is involved from a mental and physical perspective.
Perhaps our biggest issue this summer has been that our overseas players haven't performed since Martin Guptill joined up with New Zealand. Dilshan and Amla have career averages around the 45-55 mark, yet for Derbyshire they averaged 25, something a young county player may aspire to, but not a world-ranked cricketer.
A young side needs the hired overseas hands to take the lead and ours sit eighth and ninth in the batting averages at the halfway point of the season. Everyone applauded the club's ambition when these cricketing luminaries were engaged. Yet the bottom line is that, whatever their impact on the dressing room, or what positive message it sends out to other names around the world about our club, they haven't delivered the thing we really needed.
I hope that Hamish Marshall does better and I wish him well, because the role of professional at any club, amateur or otherwise, carries responsibility and all are ultimately judged on their statistics. Their success can make life a lot easier for young team mates; their failures leave them with undue responsibility. If an international player can't get runs, why should there be an expectation of them from far less experienced youngsters?
Tomorrow's game sees Scott Elstone take a breather, while Mark Footitt should earn the accolades of the supporters in his last home appearance before the pre-Ashes boot camp. One of Derbyshire's seamers will drop out, the final choice for me being between Shiv Thakor and Tom Taylor
Wayne Madsen (c), Tom Poynton (wk), Ben Slater, Billy
Godleman, Chesney Hughes, Hamish Rutherford, Shiv Thakor, Wayne White,
Tony Palladino, Tom Taylor, Mark Footitt
A win in this one sees us catapult back into the promotion places and remember there is a lot of cricket still to play. Our attack will miss Mark Footitt if he gets into the England side, but handling that is another aspect of our development as a club.
Surrey have players out, with Moises Henriques and Rory Burns missing after their horror collision at Arundel last week. They have taken Nottinghamshire seam bowler Luke Fletcher on loan and have Tim Linley back from a loan spell at Sussex. Their squad:
Gareth Batty (c), Gary Wilson (wk), Zafar Ansari, James
Burke, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Dean Elgar, Luke Fletcher, Ben Foakes,
Arun Harinath, Aneesh Kapil, Tim Linley, Dominic Sibley
I am going for a Derbyshire win here, with a keen attack hopefully getting an opportunity to bowl first on a typical County Ground first morning wicket. We need to bat better, the inconsistency undoubtedly proving a frustration for Graeme Welch, but at out best we have good players who can win games.
I will be along to see the second and third days of the game and look forward to catching up with friends old and new. I'd have made the first day too, but my son's birthday ensures that I tend to domestic responsibilities first.
I hope to see you there after a strong first day.
And happy birthday tomorrow, son!