Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Where does KP fit in to the Surrey side?

What a whirlwind, it seems that Kevin Pietersen will slot straight into the matchday squad for tomorrow's game with Worcestershire, and with Steven Davies being called up for England duty and therefore unavailable (huge congratulations to him by the way!), I think KP will be named as the only new face in the otherwise unchanged squad from the weekend.

I think he might just squeeze into the starting XI, so what is going to be the order?  I think I'd go with something along the lines of:


The games we've won this season have been won (largely) on the back of rapid starts from Hamilton-Brown and Davies, so in his absence I think we'd be wise to stick our other big six hitter up top, and that man is Jason Roy.  Lots of pressure on a young man, but he's got bags of talent, it might just bring the best out of him - and if it does, watch out Worcestershire.

Pietersen-Ramprakash at numbers three and four is the stuff of my dreams (sometimes...), Walters is in good form and I've always preferred him lower down the order personally.  I still worry that Spriegel lacks the power to be a really effective number seven but he got runs quickly on Sunday so he gets another chance.  He'll also have to bowl a few more overs than he did vs Somerset, either that or RHB and KP will have to have a twirl.

The age old (well, month old) Cheetham or Meaker debate rumbles on, it really is much of a muchness, both can be effective, both can be expensive, to pluck a name out of the hat, I'll go with Meaker for tomorrow.  Tremlett and Dernbach pick themselves despite having poor days on Sunday.

The Worcestershire squad is as follows: Moeen Ali, Vikram Solanki, Alexei Kervezee, Jack Manuel, Darryl Mitchell, James Cameron, Shaaiq Choudhry, Gareth Andrew, Ben Cox, Jack Shantry, Alan Richardson and Chris Russell.

We're well aware of the talents of Moeen, Solanki and Kervezee having been on the receiving end of high quality hundreds from the three of them in the Championship this season, and Cameron was impressive in the match earlier in August too.  Jack Manuel scored a few runs in the recent England Under-19 ODI series too. In the bowling department, Jack Shantry is a talented young player and Richardson is a talented old player, but they're missing Shakib al Hasan who is injured - a big bonus for us, and KP too given his gremlins against left arm spin!

Losing Davies is a huge blow to us, given how well his partnership with RHB has developed but in adding KP we are adding on of the world's best batsmen (albeit in terrible nick).  Our strength unquestionably lies in the batting so I'm backing to boys to bat first and post a big total, we might just need it if Alexei Kervezee gets going.  Whatever happens tomorrow, it might turn into a bit of a circus, but it should be fun nonetheless!

KP: 1st: Score some runs, 2nd: Love cricket again, 3rd: Batter Aussies

5,300 test runs at 47, 3,300 ODI runs at 43, 900 Twenty20 International runs at 37; the numbers don't lie, this man is as class an act as there is in English cricket at the moment and we've got him.  Well according to his Twitter feed earlier today in any case.

When the possibility of Pietersen moving to either Middlesex or Surrey was mooted earlier in the season I was against the idea.  First because I was disappointed with the attitude he showed towards Hampshire, and second because I thought we'd never see much of him anyway.  However now that it seems he is available until the end of the season having been unceremoniously dropped by England, maybe its not such a bad idea after all (I still object to the way he cast Hampshire aside though).

There is a strong chance Steven Davies will get the England call anyway, so he won't be bumping a youngster out of the team and just take a look at those numbers again - Kevin Pietersen is one of the finest talents of his generation, in my mind there is no doubt that he will score runs for us.

For sure England need him to get back into form before the Ashes and although his (now deleted) Tweet seemed to object to the way he'd been treated, I think this could be for the best.  He isn't going to encounter the kind of relentlessly top-notch bowling in Division Two of the County Championship that he has in recent weeks and months and in joining Surrey he gets the chance to play amongst a group of young, enthusiastic and lively (if a little hit and miss on the field) players.  And Mark Ramprakash.

But England don't just need him to be back in form with the bat, they need him to be in love with cricket again.  He said himself that his confidence is shot to pieces and he hasn't looked right all summer.  If KP is to go to Australia and flay their attack to all corners he needs to be right technically but equally important he needs to be right mentally.  Say what you like about Adams and Hamilton-Brown's results on the pitch but the side does seem to have a good spirit about it.  I don't know whether KP needs an arm round his shoulder or if he just needs to enjoy himself again, if its the latter I think Surrey could be just right.

Whatever the rest of the supporters think of us signing him I hope KP is made to feel genuinely welcome at the Oval, whenever he walks out to bat for us for the first time he should get as rapturous a reception as the size of the crowd allows!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Confused selection policy costs Surrey dear

Somerset duly sealed their spot in the semi finals of the CB40 competition today with a comprehensive win by 64 runs over Surrey at Taunton, and lets be honest, it was never really in doubt.

In fact from the moment the team was announced it wasn't looking good.  I know the selection policy of Schofield and Batty in the same side hasn't cost us too often this season but against a side with the batting strength of Somerset, only five frontline batsmen (I count Spriegel as an allrounder) was always a huge gamble.  If you look at Somerset's six and seven - Buttler and Trego, compared to Spriegel and Schofield who have their merits as cricketers for sure, but in a batsman's paradise like Taunton you'd always err on the side of the extra bat in a limited overs contest, wouldn't you?  Couple that with the fact that Wilson is in good form after his maiden Championship hundred in the week - I think he can count himself unlucky not to have been included today.

Presumably Spriegel made it into the side ahead of Wilson because of his bowling (and ultimately he justified his spot with an unbeaten 48) but Hamilton-Brown only gave him a single over, the penultimate one, off of which 20 runs were scored - I'm not sure that really makes sense at all.

Somerset got off to a blazing start as Kieswetter found his old self and smashed 79 off 60 balls, although he did slow down a lot towards the end.  He set an excellent platform on which de Bruyn and Buttler were able to smash accomplished fifties.  Buttler in particular was impressive and in him Somerset really do have a gem of a player.

Tremlett had an absolute nightmare, leaking 71 runs from 6 overs, Cheetham and Dernbach were probably spared more chastening figures as batsmen looked to target Tremlett.  It would be a shame if after leading the attack so magnificently all summer Tremlett had a dip in form right at the end of the season.  Again our two most economical bowlers, Batty and Schofield, were left with un-bowled overs at the end, this has to be put down to poor calculation from the skipper.

Our reply started in the worst possible way, Hamilton-Brown was out in the first over trying to hit Thomas over the top - never an easy thing.  Davies was gone soon after and with him went all hope of a win.  Walters and particularly Ramps batted well, but you always felt one of Davies or Hamilton-Brown had to play a special knock if we were to have a chance.  Credit to Dernbach who is showing burgeoning ability as a slogger at the end of an innings, he biffed 31 off 14 balls.

Qualification through topping the group is now obviously out of the question, and we're well behind Sussex, Essex and Notts in the race for the 'best loser' spot.  After all the excellent work in the early stages of this competition, the recent performances against Sussex and today's game have been a real disappointment.  Make no mistake, this season has been a massive improvement over last, but that doesn't mean failure in the end isn't still very frustrating.

Spot fixing: Where now for Pakistan?

It hardly needs me to comment on the spot fixing scandal, everyone and their dog has had their say on the matter and there's not much more for me to add.

Its an extraordinarily sad situation, Pakistan cricket was in a pretty dire state as it was - the shambles of a tour in Australia earlier this year in which they lost every single match across all formats and then the bans and arguments that ensued did nothing for the team.  Add to that the fact that they cannot play any cricket in their home country and you do not have a happy cocktail.

We don't know all of the facts in this situation yet but suffice it to say it doesn't look good, the no balls were delivered bang on time and looked thoroughly deliberate, particularly on the part of Amir.  We don't know how the situation came about and whether certain players were strong-armed into being a part of this, that will come out in the wash but it doesn't look good.

It will be a huge loss, not just for Pakistan but for cricket in general if Amir is found to be at fault.  He is clearly a wonderful talent and as it stands probably one of the best two or three bowlers in the world.  His new ball partner Mohammad Asif isn't regarded with a great deal of affection it seems but you can't deny that he's a magnificent player, a true craftsman of a bowler as I read somewhere the other day.

As for the rest, Salman Butt, the Akmals, Umar Amin and more have all been implicated to a greater or lesser extent but as it stands all we know is that they are allegations.  You have to hope that the allegations prove unfounded but if that isn't the case (and that seems massively unlikely at this stage!) then Pakistan Cricket and the ICC need to make sure that root and branch reform takes place, these people cannot be allowed to infect world cricket like this ever again.

Crunch CB40 match at Taunton

With all the shenanigans going on at Lord's its very difficult to focus on today's game at Taunton, but a crucial clash such as it is warrants my attention over the alleged cheats of the Pakistan cricket team, at least for a few hours.

The squad hasn't been announced on the official site but I imagine they will go with a team along the lines of that which beat the Unicorns at Wormsley last week, but with Chris Tremlett drafted in to replace on of Dernbach, Meaker or Cheetham:


Dropping Meaker goes against my 'Surrey players first' mantra, and it is a tough call because although Cheetham took four wickets last week to Meaker's one, Meaker was economical and Dernbach's place is by no means safe - he was very expensive last week.  I think ultimately Dernbach's wicket taking threat will earn him a place and Cheetham will have another chance to prove himself.

I still worry about the lack of batting depth, such has been the effectiveness of our opening partnership in limited overs cricket that we haven't had to worry too much about the lower order.  However if the top order fails we get very quickly into numbers 7-11, who cannot be relied upon to score a bucketload of runs.  I hope Walters is back in the side and I hope Ramprakash is restored to the number three role, though I doubt he will be.  Wilson is in good form and I hope he can now prove himself in the shorter forms as he did in the Championship vs Leicestershire.

Roy's knock in the Championship in the week hints that he might be back into the sort of form that saw him become Surrey's first Twenty20 centurion which would be a real boon for the middle order.

We absolutely have to win this to qualify which is no mean feat.  Though we've beaten Somerset in both T20 fixtures earlier in the season, in the reverse CB40 fixture in July we were on the receiving end of a batting masterclass from Trescothick, de Bruyn and Hildreth and lost by almost 100 runs.  Make no mistake we will have to be 100% on our A-game today, and you get the feeling that if we are to have any chance of winning we need Davies and Hamilton-Brown to fire in spectacular style.  Come on boys!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Positive draw - but not all positive

I've not been able to follow much of the match today so I won't presume to comment too deeply but if the Cricinfo report, and this passage in particular, are to be believed, Chris Adams has some issues:

"Surrey didn't really deserve the win. Tremlett's last spell apart, their bowling was toothless and their fielding quite awful. For young men, the likes of Arun Harinath and Tom Lancefield ('Lance-can't-field' as one comedian in the press box puts it) are remarkably ponderous and unreliable."

We have been told numerous times that the fielding is a real focus for the players, and rightly so, I've whinged on and on about the number of catches we drop a number of times.  So where is this improvement?  How many times do we have to drop a catch, or fumble in the field or let an easy stop turn into a boundary before some actual improvement is in evidence?

There is a sizeable coaching staff and yet our fielding is the butt of many jokes it would seem.  We will never close out games, like there was the opportunity to do today, if we can't take our catches or create pressure in the field.  All the best sides are on the money all the time in the field, and clearly we are not.  In some instances, particularly in the limited overs games this season our fielding has been better, but as in seemingly every other area its two steps forward and three steps back.  This has to be urgently addressed by Adams and his many underlings.

That aside, there were positives to take from this draw.  The batting was much improved from recent matches, OK we relied partially on another hundred from the irrepressible Ramprakash but Wilson showed real maturity and Roy showed a glimpse of the talent that he has with exactly the sort of innings that was needed at the time.  

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Return to form: Delivered (mostly)

It seems I underestimated one G. Wilson.  I wouldn't have selected him for this game, instead I would've given Spriegel a chance to recapture some kind of form.  But in doing so, I would've been wrong and today Wilson proved me wrong in fine style, finishing the day unbeaten just six short of his maiden first class hundred.

Surrey as a whole ended the day 353-4, Mark Ramprakash delivering his fifth ton of the season (one more than the rest of the squad combined), he ended the day 179 not out and only 21 runs shy of a third double hundred of the season.  He truly is a remarkable cricketer.

Earlier in the day things didn't look so rosy though, we were sent in to bat under gloomy skies with Matthew Hoggard at the end of his run up preparing to do battle with our top order.  Initially he won that battle, removing Lancefield and Harinath cheaply to leave Surrey reeling at 11-2.  Rory Hamilton-Brown came to the crease and played the only way it seems he knows how, his counter-attacking 36 from 37 would've looked foolish if it wasn't for Messrs Wilson and Ramprakash later in the day.

Steve Davies was more circumspect in his 19 from 58 balls and put on 60 with Ramps.  When he was out with the score on 134 we could've folded and I for one thought we would.  However Wilson showed plenty of fight (and no little talent I'm sure!) in forming an impressive 217 run partnership with Ramprakash.

Before this game Wilson, 24 years old, had scored 340 runs in 19 First Class innings at an average of exactly 20, he's already upped that to 25 and to give him his due this season he's delivered whenever called upon.

The weather over Grace Road this morning was good for swing bowlers and Hoggard will have been relishing the chance to bowl.  However the wickets of Harinath and Lancefield aside he hardly had a field day.  His new ball partner Nathan Buck went wicketless and at four runs an over (another victim of the Surrey Cricket Blog curse - he's this week's Player of the Week!).  Wayne White had an even worse day, his 10 overs cost the team 60 runs.

This was Surrey's day and they will be looking to get the 47 runs they need for full batting bonus in the 14 overs before the bonus cut-off kicks in.  Once Wilson has his hundred I am sure he will look to score quickly and this is an ideal platform for Jason Roy to come in and make his mark on Championship debut.  I sincerely hope Ramprakash continues on his merry way.

Unfortunately looking at the forecast Wilson and Roy might have to wait until Thursday to do so.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Return to form desperately needed

In this glorious August that we're having its quite likely that Surrey's game with Leicestershire which runs from tomorrow until Friday will be heavily rain-curtailed, but in between the rain showers it is vital for Surrey to claw back some kind of Championship form.

Hope of a promotion push is of course long dead and Adams is persisting with his policy of blooding the younger players.  The squad consists of 10 players aged 24 or younger and the lot of them are eligible for England:

Tom Lancefield
Arun Harinath
Mark Ramprakash
Steven Davies
Rory Hamilton-Brown
Jason Roy
Matt Spriegel
Gareth Batty
Chris Tremlett
Jade Dernbach
Stuart Meaker

12th men: Steven Cheetham, Gary Wilson.

The decision not to select Stewart Walters but to keep faith with Spriegel is baffling, especially given Walters' 78* in the CB40 yesterday.  The pair of them have scored absolutely zilch in the last three Championship games and I suppose Spriegel's bowling probably squeezes him in, but it doesn't bode well for Walters' future at the club.  He's no world beater but if the last game taught us anything its that the middle order needs a bit of stodge, there's a lot of pressure on Roy or Wilson to deliver runs amongst a batting order short of confidence.

I am also slightly surprised that Harinath has survived, his runs have really dried up since early season, though to his credit his average is at or around that of Rory Hamilton-Brown.  I think the lack of alternatives has saved him in this instance, though personally I might've given Seren Waters a go up top.  I want Harinath to succeed, at the end of last season he looked to have all the essentials, but of late he hasn't quite delivered.  He may well be moved down the order but to have Roy or Wilson opening with Lancefield wouldn't be a good idea in my view.

The other Stuart, Meaker, might be in danger too after Cheetham's 4-32 yesterday though my personal preference is always to go for the Surrey lad over the loan signing as I've said before.

Above all else the players need to make sure they approach this in the right mindset.  The reckless approach to the 'run chase' against Worcestershire of Davies and Hamilton-Brown was so disappointing.  They both have talent to burn - now they need to start applying it, Hamilton-Brown as captain in particular.

Leicestershire are a dangerous side with plenty of talented players not least of which is James Taylor - possibly the most promising young batsman in the country who is approaching 1,000 runs for the season.  The rest of their batsmen have not scored heavily this season but they've still got plenty about them.  In the bowling department they have Buck and the irrepresible Hoggard, who combined with Claude Henderson and Jigar Naik make for a very handy attack.  Leicestershire might be in the midst of some boardroom shenanigans but they still harbour promotion hopes and are a tough prospect.

We are short of form, short of confidence but we've got bags of talent.  Leicestershire have the edge on the bowling front, we have the edge on the batting front, so it should make for a very interesting few days (that will probably be ruined by the August downpours!).

Sunday, 22 August 2010

We're still in it....just

Rory Hamilton-Brown and Steve Davies carried on in their attacking vein, but where against Worcestershire it was completely inappropriate, today it was just what the doctor ordered against the Unicorns.

They might have the worst name, possibly in the history of county cricket (and there's plenty of competition) but the Unicorns have proven no pushovers in the competition so far so when they won the toss and put Surrey in RHB and Davies could've been forgiven a note of caution.  But their brains don't seem to work that way so it was attack from the word go and while the skipper was out for a rapid 52, Davies raced to 101 from 85 deliveries - another stunning knock from the young wicketkeeper.

Their 106 run partnership laid the perfect foundation for the rest of the order.  Stewart Walters continues at three for reasons that are beyond me, he played well today but I am baffled as to why he is in ahead of Mark Ramprakash.  Indeed today even Matthew Spriegel was in ahead of Ramps, utterly bizarre.  I think 273 was at the low end of the totals we could've expected, in compiling his 78 not out Walters hit one fewer boundary than Hamilton-Brown did in scoring 50.

Still, a total of 273 should prove winning against the the Unicorns, and so it was, though they did get off to a decent start, Jade Dernbach was a little profligate in his opening spell but Steve Cheetham was excellent from the get-go in picking up 4-32.  Hopefully that's banished the memories of the savaging he received at the hands of Mark Cosgrove not so long ago.  Stuart Meaker was also impressive today, his 8 overs cost just 34 runs and his first four went for just 13.

I think against a more experienced batting lineup, say that of Somerset or Sussex, that total may have looked a little more vulnerable but Surrey did the job today and we're still in with a chance of securing a semi-final spot.  We'll be relying on a slip-up from Somerset, but if we win our three remaining games we give ourselves a great chance of either qualifying or picking up the 'best loser' spot in the semis.

I don't think we can afford to continue to experiment with the batting lineup like we seemed to today.  Ramprakash is, as we all know, a class act and I feel sure that given the length of innings Walters had today he would've ended on more than 78.  There is no shame in that for Walters, Ramps is just one of the finest players county cricket has ever seen!  Walters has proved adept at coming in at the end of an innings and complementing a set batsman.  Jason Roy's failure today shouldn't worry unduly, I imagine with the innings poised as it was he was instructed to find the boundary wherever possible.

Anyway, its nice to be back to winning ways after the bitterly disappointing performance against Worcestershire.  It is crucial though that the likes of Davies and RHB get into the four day mindset in time for the visit to Grace Road starting on Tuesday.

No Tremlett for Unicorns game

Nope, it isn't an injury, or at least I'm trusting in the official website saying that it isn't - rather he's been 'rested'.  The bowler who has led our attack all summer and has been the only player who has consistently been able to keep opposition batsmen on a tight leash has been rested for a crucial game in the only tournament we have any hope of progressing in.

That seems a little odd to me.  In Group A we are three points clear of Lancashire over whom we have two games in hand, and a single point behind Sussex over whom we have one game in hand.  Should we win, we will go clear of Sussex and to within three points of Somerset - if they slip up in a couple of their remaining games we can still top the group, and yet our attack leader has been rested.

The squad is as follows - as ever with my starting XI preference:

Rory Hamilton-Brown
Steven Davies
Mark Ramprakash
Jason Roy
Stewart Walters
Gary Wilson
Matthew Spriegel
Gareth Batty
Jade Dernbach
Tim Linley
Stuart Meaker

On the bench: Chris Schofield, Steven Cheetham

Given the form of Spriegel and Walters in the most recent County Championship matches, that batting looks horribly weak so lets hope the top order have another of their 'on' days and the lower order aren't needed - at the top of the order Hamilton Brown and Davies average 47 and 72 respectively, with strike rates of 150 and 132.  That said, Walters and Spriegel have impressed in the limited overs games so far so maybe they'll revert to that type.

The bowling always looks weaker sans-Tremlett, and there's no sign of Nel who has played just three of our CB40 matches this season.  Meaker and Dernbach are either liable to have an unplayable day or a 'spray it about like a garden hose' day, lets hope its the former, when they click the pair of them are two of the most exciting young bowling talents in the country.

The opposition batting looks weak too but sides should underestimate the Unicorns at their peril.  Although Durston is no longer in their side, Keith Parsons is an old hand and Michael O'Shea - who I've seen nothing of - is averaging 50+ with a very healthy strike rate.  Their bowlers are similarly unknown to me apart from Surrey old boy Neil Saker, who is handy on his day without ever being a huge threat.

We ought to have enough about us to win this game even without Tremlett - I just don't like the message that leaving him out of the side sends.  As Chris Adams says on the official website we are one of the top one day outfits in the country when we show up but the recent performances in the County Championship will have left many of the young players shot of confidence.  Hopefully Hamilton-Brown can convince the team that the worst is behind them and that today some pride can be restored.  That is of course assuming the weather doesn't intervene in a Surrey-Unicorns game for the second time this season.....

Thursday, 19 August 2010

I'm embarrassed

There is nothing good I can say about Surrey's performance today.  Ok, in this match Chris Tremlett bowled well for his eight wickets, but today, in this innings, we were a disgrace.

Already four down overnight, Davies and Rory Hamilton-Brown could perhaps have had in mind the big blob of rain clouds I saw hoving in the direction of Worcester on BBC Breakfast this morning.  But no, apparently what they had in mind was an early finish and perhaps some golf in the afternoon.  That is the only reason I can see behind the pair of them coming out and thrashing 50-odd off 40-odd deliveries.  Why?

Shamefully Surrey were done and dusted inside 14 overs from Lancefield's wicket falling last night to Chris Tremlett being the last man out today.  Facing a total of 369 the idea today should've been to play out some time, not thrash it about the place.  Only four batsmen made it into double figures and Spriegel and Walters who so recently have looked in good nick cannot buy a run at the moment.

This match was lost in not closing out Worcestershire's first innings once we had them 106-5, and then failing to do so again in the second innings when they were 125-5.  To have a side 5 down with less than 130 on the board twice and let them pass 300 twice is going to result in defeats more often than not.

Of course credit must go to Worcestershire.  In the first innings James Cameron was excellent and in the second Kervezee was outstanding, they were ably assisted by Shakib al Hasan's bowling today.  Surrey's batsmen might have gifted him the wickets, but I don't doubt he was bowling excellently.

I understand there was some ruckus between Gareth Batty and the Worcestershire supporters which resulted in the latter dissolving into tears in the dressing room.  As the Cricinfo report points out he ought to have developed a thicker skin by now, but there's absolutely no room for that in cricket.  Batty might not have covered himself in glory in this match but he's a good cricketer, I think he can count on the support of the Surrey fans when he gets back to the Oval.

So where to from here?  I don't think many Surrey supporters are going to enjoy reading descriptions like "a collapse of rare ineptitude" and "it was remarkably gormless cricket", and Adams' frankness in expressing that "we're far off where we want to be" is welcome but frustrating.  He's approaching two years in charge and sometimes it looks like we've made precisely zero progress.  Yes there are the flashes of brilliance and the limited overs stuff has been a vast improvement, but in the County Championship, where it matters most, we are nowhere.

There are specific issues - the opening partnership is a million miles from settled and the bowling, particularly in the spin department, is too frequently found wanting.  But worryingly there are more general issues about playing the situation, elementary stuff I'd have thought, which far too few of the players seem to comprehend.  I'm not suggesting we need a clearout at the top, but I think captain and coach need to take a long hard look at themselves, two times in three games we've been played off the park against teams we should at least be on a par with.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The game is up

This one is as good as over, but it needn't have been, for with just a few overs left in the day we were 57 without loss and the possibility of at least saving the game wasn't out of the question.  However some misplaced youthful exuberance from Tom Lancefield and four wickets later, and Worcestershire are on the verge of completing an impressive win.

However the ills didn't begin there, Surrey's bowling, the redoubtable Tremlett aside, was poor today.  Stuart Meaker, as promising as he may be, has been woeful in this match returning 1-129 from 29 overs, 4.4 an over across the match in case you were wondering.  And while Worcestershire's world class spinner Shakib al Hasan looks likely to wrap up the win for them, our frontline spinner, Gareth Batty, was terribly expensive in collecting his three scalps today.  Wickets at 40 apiece at this stage in the season from your leading spinner is just not good enough, an awful lot of weight falls on the shoulders of your spinner in the second innings come August and September, and Gareth Batty with just 16 5-fors in 150 First Class games, isn't going to run through sides.

Though the bowling was poor, I'm sure better bowlers would've been put to the sword by young Kervezee today, he really does look a special prospect and I suspect there will be interest from England in the not-too-distant future.

The fielding throughout this match has been poor and I understand there was at least one more drop today, if you're having to create two chances for every one wicket you take, it doesn't take a genius to work out that you're setting yourselves up to fail.

There has been precious little to draw any pleasure from in this match.  The batsmen have batted without much intelligence and the bowlers don't seem to have had much in the way of plans.  The fact remains that we are the 17th 'best' county out of 18 if you look at the tables and today that seems about right.  On our day we look a million dollars, but those days are few and far between at the moment.

Tomorrow will be uncomfortable viewing for those that do turn up to cheer on Surrey I fear.  Although Davies is still at the crease, I don't think that he and Rory Hamilton-Brown are the type of player who will be able to bat out the majority of the day to save the game.  That said, I want more than anything for the pair of them to prove me wrong.  This game has been a terrible disappointment, we as fans should never expect to win but Worcestershire and us are pretty evenly matched sides and we should've been pushing them hard for victory, we haven't come close to doing so.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Listless performance on day two

Surrey were made to rue the impact of their dropped catches by Worcestershire today as they closed the day with the midlands side effectively 62-0 and looking to build a big second innings lead.

The openers weathered the early storm but Harinath yet again failed to kick on and you have to now question whether he is quite ready for top line first class cricket.  On the bright side his opening partner Tom Lancefield impressed with 72 - the top score in the Surrey innings and he could just nail himself down a place at the top of the order for the near future.

Mark Ramprakash was bright and breezy in his 20 which included two sixes and he will have been disappointed to run himself out when he could've capitalised today.  Rory Hamilton-Brown is doing nothing to silence those doubters who think he can only make runs when the going is good, he was out for 1 from 13 deliveries.  Steve Davies was again superb with his 62 but should probably have gone on to bigger things.

The final six wickets fell for just 46 runs when we looked set to reach at least parity and perhaps eke out a small first innings lead.  As it is, this has been a distinctly average two days for Surrey.  The middle of the Worcestershire innings got away from us and the batsmen failed to stamp any authority on the Worcs bowlers.

Tomorrow morning, conditions allowing, Tremlett needs to come out all guns blazing and get in amongst them sharpish.  With the uncertainty of 50% of our opening pair, the inability of RHB to make runs under the kosh and the lower middle order having a sudden drop off in form, I don't think we can be comfortable chasing anything too far above 250.  The bowlers have a massive task tomorrow, but if any bowler in Division Two at the moment can do it, Chris Tremlett can.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Four more for Tremlett on a decent day for Surrey

Without knowing the precise characteristics of this particular pitch its difficult to assess precisely where Surrey and Worcestershire are in this match, but looking back at other results at New Road this season, 300-odd on the board in the first innings is about par.

It probably shouldn't be as many as that after we reduced them to 105-5 with another excellent pre-lunch bowling display on the first morning.  In fact if it wasn't for Meaker's horror show (he was going at approaching 8 runs an over into the break) it would've been even more impressive.  But as we let Rayner and Co. get Sussex off the hook a little last week, today Cameron, Wheeldon and Andrew hauled them up to 300.

It seems to be those lower middle order and lower order batsmen who are peculiarly tough for Surrey to dismiss for reasons that are beyond me, but the comeback to dismiss the final three batsmen for just 12 and before close was impressive today.

Chris Tremlett was again impressive in picking up another four-for and now has 34 for the season at 20 each, the sort of form that might just crowbar him on to the plane for the Ashes tour.  Dernbach too was good again and is proving a useful backup for main man Tremlett, he returned 3-78 and Batty chipped in with his ritual 3-for.  Hopefully tomorrow Meaker will find his mojo again, he vacillates between utterly unplayable and spraying it around like a garden hose, lets hope in the second innings its more of the former.

Surrey's openers managed to play out the three overs before close and put 12 on the board, Lancefield and Harinath will want to stamp their authority on the bowlers tomorrow.  Whether they will get the chance to is another matter and the weather could stand between Surrey, Worcestershire and a result in this match as it did last week.

If we can cobble together a 100 run first innings lead at a decent lick there's still plenty of reason to hope for a result in this one.  However Worcestershire's bowlers are not to be sniffed at, Mason and Shakib in particular will be tricky to negotiate.  Knuckle down tomorrow boys (in between the showers) and you never know!

Update:  It turns out that there were a number of dropped chances today, which is bitterly disappointing, both Wheeldon and Cameron were dropped early on and without their runs we'd be firmly in the box seats.  The fielding early this season was poor, but generally seemed to get better but to hear of so many missed chances today is frustrating.  Adams simply must focus on this, we are continually going to be behind the 8-ball if we can't snaffle the chances that come our way.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Surrey v Worcestershire - same again please

Surrey take on Worcestershire at New Road starting tomorrow off the back of a really good performance against Sussex last week.  If the inconsistent pattern of this season is to be followed by Surrey, this will be a crushing defeat, but I think we'll give them more than a run for their money.

The following squad has been named, and my preference for the team is as follows:

Tom Lancefield
Arun Harinath
Mark Ramprakash
Steven Davies
Rory Hamilton-Brown
Stewart Walters
Matthew Spriegel
Gareth Batty
Chris Tremlett
Stuart Meaker
Jade Dernbach

Bench: Steven Cheetham, Tim Linley

I see no reason to change an (almost) winning formula.  The only question given the squad named, is whether we play the extra seamer, either Cheetham or Linley but I don't think we should.  The openers are not in the best of form so the batting needs to stay as deep as possible, and the bowling versus Sussex was excellent, Dernbach and Meaker will only get better the more overs they bowl.

Worcestershire aren't the most consistent of sides, much the same as Surrey, in their last two Championship games they've been battered by Glamorgan and beaten Gloucestershire, impressively chasing down 340 to win on the final day.  In the game at Croydon earlier in the season an excellent first innings total from Surrey was all-but-equalled thanks to twin hundreds from Solanki and Moeen Ali.  That said, some good bowling from Surrey in the second innings took us to within two wickets of a victory.

In Darryl Mitchell, Moeen and young Alexei Kervezee, who have eight hundreds between them, they have a decent batting lineup and though Solanki hasn't been in the best form, he's still a quality player.  Their bowling isn't weak either, the pace lineup is led by Alan Richardson and Matt Mason who have 67 wickets between them and Shakib al Hasan is a world class spinner (and not a bad batsman to boot!).

After the performance against Sussex we should be looking to take all the (many) positives from that and push for a win this week.  The bowling unit is looking impressive at the moment and the batting is chock full of runs, even if they didn't show it last week.  A big innings from the skipper would go down very well thank you very much, and then over to Tremlett and Co to do what they do best, come on the 'Rey!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Rory: Ugly runs please

Without wanting to ruin my end of season appraisal coming up, presumably in 6 weeks or so, I think Rory Hamilton-Brown has made a decent fist of his first season as Surrey captain.  He's moulded a rag-tag bunch of lads into a team, and a team that wins an awful lot more than its predecessors.  If Steven Cheetham, the recent loan signing is to be believed, it seems there's a pretty good team spirit, witness his Twitter feed here.

But, and its a pretty big but, he hasn't scored the runs he should've done in the County Championship - the competition that is still, to my mind, the pinnacle.  The two hundreds he's clocked up in the County Championship have been impressive and his limited overs form has been good by and large, but there's a feeling he isn't so adept at knuckling down and playing out a big innings when needed most.

Of course he's still only 22 and that sort of thing will hopefully come in time, but some numbers I've looked into back up that feeling.  In innings where Surrey have scored 300 or less, Hamilton-Brown's average is 14, contrast this with another winter signing, Steve Davies, whose average in such innings is 33 (better still than Ramps, whose average is 32).  In innings where Surrey have racked up 300+ the skipper's average shoots up to 49.

In fact, the average total of the innings where RHB has scored his three first class hundreds to date is 520 runs.  Lets not pay too much attention to that, three isn't really a representative sample!

I don't doubt that Hamilton-Brown will go on to become a very fine player for Surrey, and he'll score a lot of runs for us.  But I think if he is to win over those doubters, and the message boards seem to indicate there's still a fair few of them, he needs to score ugly runs in situations where the team needs a boost.  His strokeplay when he's in full flight is something to behold, but a 50 off 200 balls when Surrey are on the rack would be something to behold too!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Creditable draw against table toppers

April 2010, Sussex vs Surrey at Hove, it ended in a 10 wicket hammering in a game where Surrey barely looked at the races.  Fast forward to August and its a totally different Surrey, one that can take a very strong Sussex side right to the brink and since day one we've looked the side much more likely to force a win.

That is progress, without question, so there's plenty to be pleased about.  Today started in the best possible fashion with Tremlett sending Michael Thornely back to the pavilion with the first ball of the day and Stuart Meaker accounted for Murray Goodwin before the lunch break as well.  However thereafter Michael Yardy and Ben Brown got stuck in and rescued Sussex, only one more wicket fell for the remainder of the day and the captains shook hands on a draw once Yardy had progressed to his hundred.

There are still issues, Harinath still has yet to kick on and despite scoring 500 runs this season he has just three fifties to his name and no hundred, he also has comfortably the lowest strike rate of any of our batsmen.  Lancefield generally looks to score more freely and his 37 hinted at something bigger.  I like both players a lot and perhaps its unfair to expect too much of two youngsters being thrown in to open.  Our opening partnership has been a massive issue though, only once has the partnership passed 80 all season.  Michael Brown's absence has been keenly felt.

Plenty of positives though from this game.  Again Tremlett looked the business, surely there is no better pace bowler in the country that isn't already playing for England?  Meaker and Dernbach were also good and they should play as much as humanly possible between now and the end of the season.  Batty's bowling has been effective of late and I suspect he'll come into play more and more as the season reaches its climax.

This is a side featuring seven players under 25 and all of them are England qualified, that is something we as Surrey fans can be genuinely proud of.  More than that, they took Sussex right to the brink (well, nearly), who knows what would've come of this game if we hadn't lost an entire day to the weather.  Well played lads, lets see some more of the same from here on in!

There is still hope...a little bit

Having lost the entirety of Tuesday to the weather a result in this game was always an outside chance, but thanks to low first innings scores from both sides there's a sliver of hope that Surrey could force a result today, provided the weather holds that is.

In succumbing to Yasir Arafat's 5-for Surrey were all out for 292, many of the top order guilty of getting set and getting out. The only man to pass fifty in the match so far was Steven Davies, confirming that he's better suited down the order than he is to opening. Rory Hamilton-Brown is displaying a frustrating habit of getting to 20 or 30 and getting out, frustrating for himself as much as it is for the supporters I don't doubt.

Still, 292 was a lead of 75 over Sussex and they had a tricky 12 overs to negotiate. They didn't do so without loss as Stuart Meaker struck twice in the three overs he was given, gaining two LBW decisions, the dangerous Chris Nash and nightwatchman Panesar his victims.

Eight wickets in hand and a deficit of only 36 would suggest Sussex can probably survive but more early strikes like those yesterday evening and Surrey will sniff a welcome victory. The wickets being shared around the bowlers is encouraging, particularly Meaker and Dernbach who have indicated returns to the form they were showing before untimely injuries.

Monday, 9 August 2010

A good start, a good end

After crumbling to a frustrating defeat against Sussex in the CB40 yesterday, and having suffered total anihilation at the hands of Middlesex in our last County Championship game there was a danger Surrey could've been overawed this morning.

However, that was not to be the case, Hamilton-Brown won the toss and chose to field, perhaps a bold choice given the amount of runs scored here last year, but his bowlers rewarded him richly.  Although Dernbach was a touch expensive, Tremlett was exceptional at the other end in picking up 3-12 in his first spell including the key wickets of Joyce and Goodwin.  He would add another before close to finish with 4-32, he now has 29 wickets at 21 apiece though frustratingly for him he has yet to pick up a five-for.

Gareth Batty continued his excellent bowling form of late too in collecting 3-81, his figures ruined somewhat by some lower order hitting.  Having reduced Sussex to 87-6 and then 101-7 we let them off the hook ever so slightly in allowing the lower order to haul them up to 217 all out, but its a total which looks well below par.

In their reply Surrey's openers could've gone at the ball too hard in trying to rack up quick runs but to their credit Harinath and Lancefield, opening in a first team game together for the first time, did well to preserve their wicket in the seventeen overs they had before close and ended on 47-0 at just under three runs an over.

Tomorrow morning they will have to be careful again, Arafat, Collymore and Adkin were tight today and the ball still isn't very old.  Panesar will also get plenty of overs and is a bowler to be respected.  We ought to be looking at the 400 mark at least and hopefully pushing on towards 500 to put Sussex under real pressure going into days three and four.

An excellent start from Surrey today and the bowlers have given us a great chance.  Now its down to the batsmen to back them up.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Harinath recalled for Sussex CC game

Having scored a bag of runs in the Second XI in the last few weeks Arun Harinath has been named in Surrey's 14 man squad for the game with Sussex at Guildford starting tomorrow, and Usman Afzaal has been left out and I wonder if we'll see him in a Surrey shirt again.

The squad and my preference (after much deliberation) is as follows:

Arun Harinath
Tom Lancefield
Mark Ramprakash
Steven Davies
Rory Hamilton-Brown
Stewart Walters
Matthew Spriegel
Gareth Batty
Stuart Meaker
Chris Tremlett
Jade Dernbach

Bench:  Steven Cheetham, Tim Linley, Jason Roy

Harinath and Lancefield will form what is, by my calculation, our 8th opening partnership in 12 Championship games which is by no means ideal, but I think Steve Davies is much better suited down the order and his runs are crucial.  Harinath is a very stodgy player and Lancefield tends to play with a bit more freedom, so maybe they will complement each other nicely.

Jason Roy has done plenty to earn a spot in the Championship XI but I think it might just be a touch too soon at the moment.  However if he was picked in the middle order in place of, say, Stewart Walters, I wouldn't be surprised or disappointed.  I do think, however, that Walters has done a lot in recent games that suggests he's in very good touch.

Whether Spriegel or Meaker is picked is much of a muchness, I think they both bring plenty but Meaker's extra ability with the bat means he gets my nod.  Steven Cheetham is by all accounts a very handy bowler but I'll always go for a Surrey boy over a loan signing!

In the game with Essex last season at Guildford it was a bit of a run fest, both teams racking up 350+ in the first innings and the match ended in a draw.  We know only too well from the game earlier in the season how good a side Sussex are, we were on the end of a comprehensive 10 wicket thrashing and we'll have to bring our A-game if we are to beat them this week.  They are a bit short of batsmen in top form, Goodwin keeps churning out the runs and they do bat deep, but their bowling has been good with Collymore in outstanding form and Panesar starting to come good too.

This one will be tough for Surrey but if we can give them a good game and run them close, we might just be able to sneak a win against a good outfit which will do wonders for the confidence of the side.

I can't expect world records every game....

Just like to get the world record bit in wherever I can.  Anyway, back to earth today as Sussex comfortably beat Surrey by six wickets with more than an over to spare at Guildford this afternoon.

Hamilton-Brown won the toss and chose to bat, and despite giving us another cracker of a start, edging towards ten an over for the first five, he couldn't repeat the heroics of Wednesday night as he was the first of Chris Liddle's four victims.  Stewart Walters seems to be settling in to his new role at number three nicely, I wouldn't have him there myself, I see him as more of a finisher, but whatever works!  His 88 came at better than a run a ball and without it we'd have been nowhere.

Jason Roy seems to have lost the form which made him such a star in the Twenty20, but the lad is only just 20, he will come again.  Spriegel's renaissance continued and he'll be disappointed that his 30 off 27 balls didn't amount to something more substantial.  I still worry that our numbers seven and eight are not able to force the issue enough, Batty and Wilson returned just two boundaries in consuming 21 balls today.

The Sussex innings didn't get off to the best of starts for us either, Joyce and Nash, two very good players, were comfortably keeping up with the run rate and Tremlett wasn't having his best game for us.  One poor game in the last twenty or so isn't such a bad return though.  Dernbach was expensive too as he can be from time to time.  Linley, usually so reliable in keeping things tight leaked a few too many as well.

The spin of Batty, Spriegel and Hamilton-Brown was effective in keeping the runs down in the middle overs and Batty's bowling in particular in recent weeks has been much improved.  However despite needing nearly 10 an over going into the last five or six, Sussex had a powerplay up their sleeves and two good batsmen at the crease in Hodd and Yardy.  Tremlett and Dernbach had no answer and it was wrapped up pretty quick.

We're still well in the CB40 despite this result dropping us below Sussex to third in the table.  We do however have a game in hand over Sussex and Lancashire, the two sides around us.  Today's result is another sign of this side lacking consistency, we need to learn to win games like this and string results together, but I'm confident that will come in time.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Crash! Bang! Whallop! What a win!

Where to start?!  Probably with the fact that one Surrey County Cricket Club now possesses the record for totals for 40 over matches and 50 over matches.  A fact made all the more remarkable by the fact that the record total achieved tonight was done in just 38 overs!

It was a brutal display from the two young tyros at the top of the order.  In compiling 190 for the first wicket they racked up the third largest partnership for any wicket in this year's tournament but it didn't stop there.  I'm not 100% convinced that shifting Stewart Walters and Matt Spriegel up the order was the best move, I think Jason Roy could legitimately feel peeved that he didn't get a look in, but it didn't seem to make much difference tonight.  Ramprakash and Spriegel put on an extremely impressive partnership - slogging this was not - the pair of them notched really classy and impressive 50s.  Given the full 40 overs Ramprakash probably would have completed a remarkable hundred.

As Glamorgan came out to attempt a response the run rate required was above 10 before they'd even begun, this was a task beyond even the flashing blade of Mark Cosgrove, though he gave it a good crack as ever.  It looked as though the rain might save them and cruelly deny Surrey, but as the skies brightened and the Surrey groundstaff diligently worked to get the place fit for play it was clear that a game would be possible.

The bowling was not quite of the class that the batsmen displayed, but it was a flat pitch and the Glamorgan batsmen had license to hit out.  The fielding display wasn't the greatest (though better than Glamorgan's woeful effort), Jason Roy, usually such a reliable fielder had a mare this evening, dropping two relatively easy chances and Gary Wilson shelled another.  Of the bowlers Chris Tremlett was easily the best, his first three overs went for just five runs and he picked up a wicket for good measure.

New signing Steven Cheetham was poor this evening, a great many long hops and just generally well short of the required level.  To be fair to him he probably hasn't had much competitive cricket of late and it wasn't an ideal situation to come in and bowl your first four overs for the club.  Still, I'd have expected them to go for less than 60.  What news of Tim Linley and Stuart Meaker?  If they aren't injured the decision to play Cheetham instead is confusing. 

The performance with the bat tonight was exceptional.  In Davies and Hamilton-Brown we have on our hands two of the brightest young batting talents in English cricket and I am genuinely excited about our prospects with those two in the top order.  Another cracking win in the CB40 and we're right in the mix.  Yes, of course its frustrating how we can go from crushing Northants to being crushed by Middlesex to crushing Glamorgan, all in the space of a fortnight, but we should take this win for what it is, a fantastic performance.  Well played tonight lads.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Surrey Seconds: Update

I say 'update', I've not done many posts on the Second XI frankly, certainly not as many as I should've done, especially given their propensity to win games, unlike their senior colleagues.  Anyway, the game against a pretty strong Hampshire Second XI starting today has sparked my interest.

The Hampshire side isn't a terrifically strong bowling one, only Chris Benham rings any bells on that front, but its a genuinely strong bowling outfit for a Second XI side.  All the bowlers bar one who bowled today have played first team cricket; Hamza Riazuddin, David Griffiths, Liam Dawson, Chris Wood and last but by no means least, one Simon Philip Jones, he of that 2005 Ashes attack at the time labelled the best in the world.

So, quite a challenge for Surrey's batsmen then.  They responded in impressive fashion, Surrey's openers putting on an unbeaten century partnership - something the First XI haven't managed to do in 11 Championship games.

I'm working hard to create a buzz around one of those openers.  We know about Arun Harinath, his talents and limitations at this early stage but his opening partner in this game is the really interesting one.  Seren Waters, about whom I've banged on in the past, ended 80 not out from 128 balls.  As Surrey search, seemingly endlessly, for a quality opening pair, they could do a lot worse than try this lad out for size on the big stage.

A couple of other points of interest too, Neil Saker has been thrown a lifeline by Surrey having last played for the club at the end of 2008.  I was never impressed with Saker, he seemed to have neither pace nor enough control of line and length to pick up hatfuls.  He played 18 Championship games for us and returned just 31 wickets at the Mohammed Sami-esque average of 50.

Final point of interest is a trial for Michael Johnson, a wicket-keeper batsman who hails from Perth and is Luke Ronchi's understudy at Western Australia.  He barely has a first class record to speak of, but the very fact that he has a state contract suggests to me that he's pretty decent.  Are Surrey preparing for life after an England call-up for Steve Davies? Not such a bad idea....

Update:  Michael Brown has made the first tentative steps towards a return from injury, although he's not in this Second XI squad he did play in the Surrey Championship Premier Division match between Wimbledon and Cobham.  Not quite County Championship I grant you and the return was relatively meagre, a run-a-ball 39, but he hasn't played proper cricket for many a month, and he's a really good player to have back in the squad, good luck to him.

David Cameron: Cricketer

It will come as no surprise to most that as a public school toff, David Cameron's probably played a bit of cricket. However until now I only suspected he was an opportunistic slogger, this video confirms it:

I am unsure of the age of the bowler, but given the look of the rest of the kids around he probably isn't very old. However Cameron displays no mercy in dispatching the poor individual for what looks to be two sizeable sixes.

In the first he has the look of a batting tailender, Chris Tremlett or Jade Dernbach perhaps. He sets himself up quite nicely but thereafter it isn't great, his head is all over the shop and he can't be said to be terribly well balanced. When the bowler delivers his eyes light up and he extravagantly sashays down the wicket, slogging it miles, followed by a smug look of satisfaction, and quite right too. The bowler must have seen him coming because it looks a touch short, to his credit Cameron continued with the shot anyway and he got full value for it.

The second shot is more impressive though, a withering pull shot well in front of square which again looks to go high and handsome, he pirouettes for good measure and again admires his handywork. Up yours ten year old bowler. Its not a great ball to be honest, it sits right up and asks the Prime Minister for the treatment which he duly delivers.

In a cruel twist of fate, after probably winning the Ashes in his head with those two magnificent sixes, he is then forced to shake hands with Kapil Dev. That said, I suspect Cameron was indeed a supporter of the ICL over Modi's IPL brainchild, considering (wrongly in my view) the Hyderabad Heroes a superior moniker to the Deccan Chargers. Sure, there's a lot to be said for alliteration, but the Deccan Chargers have that themetune.

One thing we've all learned from that: the PM has got a decent eye. Mind you, you could've said that about his predecessor too....

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Should Chris Tremlett go Down Under?

On a day when England's bowling stocks looked mighty good with a return to wicket-taking (11 of the suckers!) form for Jimmy Anderson and a very decent performance from Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett nevertheless gave a further prod on Friday to the England selectors with four wickets in Middlesex's first innings at Lord's.

Tremlett has been a revelation since signing for Surrey in the winter, my only concern was his fitness record but since missing the first few games of the season he's been virtually ever present.  Through the Twenty20 Cup group stage he was far and away our stand out bowler and barely put a foot wrong, he ended with 24 wickets and was the leading England-qualified fast bowler in the group stage of the competition.

He's also played the small matter of seven four day matches - only once in the last four years has he played more than that and there's still six matches left in the competition.  25 wickets at 23 apiece have been the result and I don't think anyone would begrudge him putting the worst of his injury days behind him.

So, does all that mean he should be considered for the Ashes tour starting in November?  Graham Onions is more or less out for the season which makes his selection unlikely and surely Steve Harmison's England days are over, which leaves probably five fast bowling slots to be filled.  Anderson, Broad and Finn are nailed on you would think, which leaves two places for the likes of Shahzad, Bresnan, Sidebottom and the outsiders like Woakes, possibly James Harris of Glamorgan and our man Tremlett.

Shahzad has proved useful when selected and his ability to produce movement with the old ball make him an attractive proposition. I don't think Bresnan will play because Flower and Strauss seem set on a four man attack, but given previous selections he seems well placed to take the final slot.  However, I would suggest one of Woakes, Harris or best of all Tremlett would be a better selection.

Lets face it, the wickets/conditions in Australia aren't going to have the ball going round corners.  That ball by the way, will be the Kookaburra, which is widely acknowledged to swing for perhaps just 10 overs, far less than the Dukes ball wielded by James Anderson to much destructive effect over the last few days.  We therefore need someone who can extract batsmen from the crease with pace and bounce.  Steve Finn and Broad, on their day, can do just that and Tremlett is another.

Finn, Broad and Anderson is going to be the fast bowling attack come the first test in Brisbane, that much is pretty nailed on. I can see Shahzad being taken for his pace and ability to produce reverse swing, and Tremlett should be the final man for his awkward bounce (and no little pace to match).  He is also pretty handy with the bat, as his thrashed fifty yesterday showed, not to mention the fact that he's scored 50% more sixes in the Championship than any other Surrey player and is fourth in our batting averages (more a reflection on some pretty average performances by our batsmen frankly!).

They won't take him of course, they will go for Sidebottom or Bresnan, both in my opinion inferior bowlers less likely to thrive in the conditions.  All Tremlett can do is stay fit and continue to take wickets until the end of the season and force the selectors to look at him.  There's my two pennies, don't blame me if it all goes wrong!

Update:  The issue most people have with Tremlett is his attitude, or lack of it. People have said in the past that he is too prone to dropping his shoulders, and for a man of his size perhaps he ought to impose himself on the opposition more.  However I think we should not under estimate the impact an Ashes tour might have on Tremlett, it might just be the making of the man, and we'll never know until we try!