After his laborious 12 from 26 deliveries on Thursday night, and a season which has singularly failed to ignite, Usman Afzaal has been rested for this weekend's games with Somerset at Taunton and Hampshire at the Rose Bowl (including one Kevin Pietersen).
At his best Afzaal is a talented, wristy and destructive batsman but I am sure he himself will admit that he's been well short of his best all season, so maybe a rest is what he needs to rediscover some form.
The 13 man squad for the weekend is:
Gareth Batty/Chris Schofield
Bench: Tim Linley
The bowlers kept it tight against Essex so if they're all fit, I think the seamers probably pick themselves. Tremlett may be rested for Saturday's game I suppose, in favour of Linley, Tremlett will be very keen to make the trip back to Hampshire to show his old side what they're missing (at least I hope he will). Schofield's batting has been a disappointment but he did bowl OK and picked up a couple, so they might stick with him. I'd be tempted to give Batty a go for one of the games though, they're very similar players in terms of what they bring to the team.
I expect Walters to slot in for Afzaal and after his performance in the first two games, I don't think it'd be the worst idea to stick Spriegel up the order. He's not a power hitter so is wasted in the lower order, and Symonds has more regularly won games coming in at six rather than the four he has for Surrey so far. Spriegel in at four, depending on the situation, might allow him to accumulate at a strike rate of 100-110 or so and allow those around him to hit out.
I also want to see more bowling from Spriegel, his only over in the competition so far went for just two runs, and I think a combination of him and Symonds doing the fifth bowler job would be a good way forward. Its all well and good Hamilton-Brown picking up a couple of wickets, but if he goes at 10 an over in the process he almost negates the good effect. Rory's bowling was too short on Thursday and he actually got away with a few I think. That said, he's a good option to have up the sleeve if a partnership needs breaking.
What more can I say about the issue of needing improvement? Steps were made in the right direction as compared to Tuesday night, but nowhere near far enough and the players must themselves know that. Symonds is due a score now and perhaps his season will follow that of Gilchrist - two failures followed by a spectacular hundred. A few more runs from Younus and the rest of the top order wouldn't go amiss either. Its worth noting that not a single six has been scored by Surrey in two matches - that must change.
I'm not sure of the opposition squads for the games, but the likes of Trescothick, Kieswetter, Pollard, Lumb, Pietersen and Carberry are likely to present significant obstacles to Surrey. In the face of that kind of power Surrey will have to improve out of sight to give them a game, but they are capable of it, it just remains to be seen whether they will.
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