On the subject of players having to be sent to Somerset to find a first-class match between the summer's two Test series, the structure of the 2012 summer
means that there are no first-class matches in this country for a four-week period after the end of the Test series v West Indies on Monday 11th June, after which seven County Championship matches start in a five-day period, while Kent play South Africa. The next round of Championship matches coincide with the start of the Test series v South Africa. Therefore, any members of England's Test side who need to play first-class cricket between the two Test series will only get a maximum of one chance to do so, and may get none at all if their county are one of the three who do not have a first-class match in this period (maybe some player(s) will be loaned to Kent). Thankfully, Middlesex do
have a first-class match in this period, when we play Nottinghamshire at Uxbridge, so there will be no need for Andrew Strauss to turn out for someone else this year. However last summer, some teams had two first-class matches between the two Test series (although we had just one, which is why Strauss had to play for Somerset), so the fact that this year everyone has either zero or one match is an adverse variance.