The return of Jade Dernbach for Surrey's game with Glamorgan this week will add a welcome bite to the bowling attack and a welcome selection quandary for Chris Adams who now probably has to pick three seamers from Arafat, Linley, Meaker and Dernbach himself. Jason Roy has also been named in the squad despite batting in the ongoing three day Second XI match at the Oval yesterday.
The squad and my preferred side (as opposed to who I think Adams will pick!) is as follows:
Zander de Bruyn
12th men: Schofield, Linley
Now, this throws up a number of issues. Before Surrey's first game I said I'd like to see Jason Roy at number three but credit to Adams, de Bruyn in that spot filling in for Ramps worked well at the Oval, so he will stay and rightly so. Steven Davies didn't look in the best of nick against Northants but number four is probably a reflection of his status as a senior bat in the side. Hamilton-Brown and Maynard looked in good touch so it makes no sense to tinker with the order.
The main contentious points are Roy at number seven, and dropping Tim Linley. I suspect Adams will want to keep Schofield in the side as he did a decent job in the previous game, however I don't think having his bowling as an option is necessary so Roy, as the stronger batting option, should get the nod (notwithstanding his duck in the Seconds yesterday). In the last 8 games at Cardiff 72 wickets have fallen to spinners with 162 falling to seamers. Adams also picked a seam-heavy attack here last year with Batty at number seven, he may elect to do so again dropping Schofield for Dernbach and picking Linley as part of a four-man pace battery. There are merits to that argument, Adams may feel he saw enough spark from the top six batsmen and Batty to carry them through here and the weather forecast may lead him to think a four man attack isn't enough.
Dropping Linley for this game would undoubtedly be extremely harsh given that he was our standout bowler in the first innings at the Oval. However I think Arafat should play and he stiffens the batting, Meaker has that extra pace which might count for something with swing unlikely to play a big part given the weather forecast, and Dernbach simply has to play. Were Linley to be squeezed in somewhere though I would not be disappointed.
Glamorgan come into this game on the back of a thumping win over Gloucestershire at the weekend despite a pretty abject batting performance first innings. Eight wickets for James Harris and a solid second innings batting card saw them win by 189 runs on day four. However the week before they were turned over by Leicestershire and again their first innings batting was to blame - they folded for just 146 (Alviro Petersen scored 91, no one else passed 11!).
Glamorgan's seam bowling is their strength, the gifted Harris and Adam Shantry have taken 16 wickets in two games but Dean Cosker's left arm spin is also a threat. Never, ever rule out Robert Croft either. As Stuart Meaker points out on the Surrey official site though, Glamorgan's attack is more suited to traditional April conditions rather than the unseasonable warmth we're experiencing. Although their batting has largely flattered to deceive this season, Petersen, Wright, Wagg and Jim Allenby are very capable players.
The season is only one game old for Surrey, two for most other teams, and already seven of the nine Division Two sides have won a game, as if to reiterate how competitive 2011 is going to be. Hamilton-Brown will be desperate for a win, as am I. Runs on the board under sunny skies are a must to put the Glamorgan batting lineup under as much pressure as possible.