Utterly useless bed-blocker Rao Ifthikar Anjum has now departed these shores having contributed just six wickets at 40 apiece in three matches, I don't think they'll be desperate to have him back any time soon. We know about Davies' absence for the match this week with Middlesex which brings Gary Wilson in for the first time this season and Matt Spriegel returns after his accomplished hundred against Bangladesh.
The squad for the game with Middlesex, with my team preference as usual, is:
12th men: Chris Schofield, Jade Dernbach
Dernbach has been a bit wayward this season and hasn't taken the wickets we've needed him to at the times we've needed him to, so I think he has to make way for Nel (who also hasn't been terribly impressive, but marginally more so than Dernbach). A three-pronged seam attack of Tremlett, Nel and Meaker if he can keep his decent form going, with back up spin options from Batty, Spriegel and Hamilton-Brown is plenty of bowling.
I hope they will open the batting with Evans rather than Spriegel, both of them scored their runs against Bangladesh at the top and in the middle order respectively, so why change a winning formula? Afzaal's (hopeful) return to form is timely and what better moment for Ramps to get back to scoring hundreds than against his old club. In reality, Batty and Meaker are more accomplished batsman than Wilson, but I didn't want to shame him by putting the wicketkeeper-batsman in below the bowling allrounders!
Hopefully the pitch at the Oval will resemble that for the Gloucester game, i.e. plenty of life. I wouldn't fancy our chances against Finn, O'Brien and Murtagh, but a results pitch is the order of the day. This will be a tough game against a team really on the up - their last two games have seen a convincing win inside three days and a win against a crack Sussex outfit. Now would be an ideal time for Surrey to pick up our first win of the season!
Note: Just realised in advocating dropping Dernbach for Nel I've completely contradicted what I've said in the past about persisting with homegrown players! I wouldn't be disappointed to see Dernbach given another game, and in reality there has been little to choose between the two of them this season.
Mohammad Hafeez is Back!
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