This very evening the Twenty20 behemoth rolls into town with Surrey hosting Gloucestershire at the Oval - assuming the heavens don't open too much this afternoon.
Gloucestershire lost to Glamorgan on Friday, Jim Allenby and Gareth Rees helping to chase down 149 with 5 balls remaining. Gloucs' new signing Ian Butler had an inauspicious start, he took just the one wicket for 47 runs fromhis full quota of four overs. The extreme pace of Glamorgan's overseas signing Shaun Tait proved too good for them as well, he took 1-19 from four overs.
Interestingly the old 'open with a spinner' tactic was employed by Glamorgan, Rob Croft ended with 2-21 so Surrey might be tempted to pack the spinners in. The squad is as follows with my usual team preference:
Bench: Batty, Walters
To be able to boast two quality overseas batsmen in the middle order is a real boon and in Younus and Symonds Surrey have two players capable of hitting big scores (indeed I think it was for Gloucestershire that Symonds hit a world record 16 sixes in a single innings way back in 1995 - albeit in a four day game!). The option to go with three spinners is tempting, perhaps dropping Dernbach for Batty, but I think overhead conditions this evening might lend itself to picking three seamers. In any case the side has a number of other spin options in Afzaal and RHB should they require. Symonds' versatility in being able to bowl medium or spin is very useful too, and in fact they may well drop Spriegel and go with the extra out-and-out batsman in Stewart Walters. Jim Allenby's dibbly-dobblers got him 3-23 against Gloucestershire last week so Symonds could come to the fore.
The top order is strong, as strong as Surrey have had in T20 for some while and I would hope the strength there gives RHB and Davies license to play with some freedom. I would hope to see Ramps, Younus and Afzaal build the innings in the middle to give Symonds license to do what he does best and hit out towards the end.
Gloucestershire's side is packed with good seam options, their squad is as follows: J Franklin, W Porterfield, A Gidman, H Marshall, I Butler, C Taylor, S Snell, J Lewis, A Ireland, V Banerjee, C Dent, Abdul-Kadeer Ali, J Batty.
Franklin, Ireland, Lewis and Butler is a good seam attack (despite Butler's analysis from the last week) if they choose to go down that route and Marshall, Gidman and that man Franklin again gives them some quality in the batting. Fortunately for Surrey Steve Kirby is still injured and interestingly Gemaal Hussain, who's been in good form in the Championship, is left out in favour of Jon Batty who never quite clicked for Surrey in the T20s.
Man for man, Surrey have the stronger side to my mind and should the weather relent for long enough to get a game this evening I'll be there to hopefully watch Surrey start their T20 campaign in style!
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