Sunday, 12 September 2010

One game to go, plenty of issues

The only thing at stake for Surrey in this game is whether we end the season as the third worst, second worst or very worst county in the entire country.  A depressing state of affairs, but such is life, its something we've had to become accustomed to in recent years.

Gloucestershire, similarly, are just jostling for position, they cannot be promoted, they can just finish between third and sixth.  So in those terms, this isn't one of the more captivating clashes of the final week of the county championship.  But there are plenty of issues still to resolve for Surrey, and its an especially important game for one Kevin Pietersen - I don't need to detail why!

Given that Adams picked two spinners in Schofield and Batty at the Oval, and it wasn't a raging turner of a track, it seems sensible enough to assume that he will go for two spinners again here, though it goes without saying that he definitely should not.  He's named the same squad, plus Tim Linley, for this game.

Gloucestershire's strength is overwhelmingly in their seam bowling - Franklin, Kirby, Lewis and Hussain have all been in good form and Kirby in particular might be motivated to put in a good performance for his last game with the club.  It would follow then that conditions are more likely to favour the pace bowlers than spinners, and therefore one of Schofield or Batty should not play.  They've both been poor with the ball this season, at this stage Batty looks slightly the more likely wicket taker, but Schofield is in good form with the bat.  I actually think there's a case for playing neither of them and going for the youngster Ansari instead, but he isn't even in the squad.

My preference for a team to face Gloucestershire would be:


Lancefield remains at the top of the order due to a lack of viable alternatives, and at the beginning of this season Tremlett at 8 would've been unthinkable, and I still think its complete madness, but given the squad he's named and the likely conditions, I just think two spinners is completely the wrong way to go.  At the Oval last week 40% of the bowling attack bowled just 20% of the overs.

The last game at Bristol was the frankly absurd one where Derbyshire won having been dismissed for just 44 in the first innings (and Gloucester mustered just 150 in reply), so there's plenty in it for the bowlers.  I would imagine Gloucs will go in with four seamers of their own - Lewis, Franklin, Hussain and Ireland or Kirby, but Franklin adds a much better balance to their side.

The side above relies on substantial contributions from at least two of the top six because the tail is so lengthy, which places plenty of pressure on the shoulders of the skipper who was as impressive in scoring 96 last week as he was infuriating in scoring nought in the second innings.

The pitch at Bristol is not likely to favour the spinners and while this week will be less wet than last, its still going to be pretty humid so four seamers is worth the lengthening of the tail that this necessitates (given the squad that's been named - I'd have gone for a different bunch, omitting Schoey and Batty and going for Ansari instead).  This game is largely about pride for Surrey, and that's no small thing.  A spirited performance at minimum is needed, and hopefully a good one at that!

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