Opening batsman Arun Harinath has said he will draw on the experience of hitting one of the slowest first-class half-centuries in history to save his Surrey career.

The 24-year-old Sutton cricketer took five hours and 53 minutes to compile 62 from 290 balls in a LV= County Championship Division Two defeat to Sussex in April, 2010.

The opposition’s bowling attack that day included Pakistan international Rana Naved, West Indies Test paceman Corey Collymore and England Test spinner Monty Panesar.

Harinath finished that season with 529 runs from 12 Championship matches, including three half-centuries, but he made only one County Championship appearance last summer – scoring just sevens runs against Middlesex.

Surrey will have a stellar batting line-up – including England’s Kevin Pietersen, skipper Roy Hamilton-Brown and emerging talent Tom Maynard – as they return to top-flight action this term having earned promotion from Division Two and lifted the Clydesdale Bank 40 title at Lord’s Cricket ground last summer.

But far from seeing his painstaking innings of two years ago as a millstone round his neck, Harinath has vowed to emerge a stronger player for the experience.

“That innings didn’t seem to take ages, it did take ages,” he said.

“I pride myself on being mentally strong enough to bat long periods. We were in a difficult position at the time and were losing wickets. It was a first division attack that day and it wasn’t easy.

“I was playing well during that period and had scored a few fifties, but I didn’t quite crack on and get a hundred. My form fell away a bit later in the season.

“I played quite a lot of games and it gave me a real eye opener to what first class cricket is all about. We didn’t win many games, but I felt I made important contributions.

“At the end of the day it is weight of runs that count.

“That innings was a good test of my technique and hopefully that is something I can replicate this year.”

Harinath averaged 59 in the second eleven championship last term, scoring three hundreds in a total of 599 runs, and scored heavily in the shortened format of the game with two Surrey Championship Premier Division tons for Sutton.

The former Tiffin School student signed a one-year contract extension at the Kia Oval in November, but is facing up to the possibility of life away from the game having recently taken up an Open University degree in politics, philosophy and economics.

The Wimbledon-based star, who already has a psychology degree from Loughborough University to his name, has worked hard on his technique over the winter and is relishing the challenge of playing for his future.

“Obviously, I want to stay here and be employed, but people are finding it tough out there in any job and cricket is no different,” he added.

“I want to do well and play cricket, but you have to prepare for life outside of cricket.

“Cricket is not guaranteed and I’m going to give it my best shot.

“I’m in the last year of my contract, but you have got to enjoy the opportunity and have a little bit of faith in the work you have done over the winter.”

* Surrey open their LV= County Championship Division One campaign when they host Sussex on March 5.