The message to Surrey's (largely) mis-firing batsmen from Chris Adams is clear: you get the runs - because he doesn't appear to favour picking the extra batsman, left-arm spinning allrounder Zafar Ansari - all of 19 years old - could be set to make his T20 debut on Monday night.
The rest of the squad remains the same as Kevin Pietersen makes his expected return to the England fold, the squad and expected XI (though it's very difficult to read Adams' thinking on this one) is as follows:
Bench: Arafat, Ansari, Schofield
The top five, as ever, pick themselves. Three questions remain beyond that. Firstly, which of Schofield, Spriegel and Ansari should play? Adams seems to place a lot of faith in Schofield but for me he just has not delivered enough to warrant selection. Putting Ansari in would represent a massive gamble and for that reason I think Spriegel might get another go. I would personally be tempted to go with Ansari because his left arm spin offers a useful foil to Batty's off spin.
The second question is whether Adams will be bold enough to drop Arafat - on form he simply has to, he just hasn't looked enough of a threat and although he was less expensive yesterday he needs to be taking wickets. The third question is whether Adams will go for a batsman to replace KP, or go with a third spinning allrounder. This may be dictated to some extent by whether he plays Arafat. If he doesn't I think a batsman is absolutely necessary as in Dernbach, Linley and Nannes we genuinely have three number 11s.
The bottom line remains though that our top five ought to be setting/chasing higher totals than they are. On that note I would also like to see Hamilton-Brown bat first if he wins the toss, I think we're a better side setting a total, notwithstanding the demolition of Gloucestershire 10 days ago.
As for Essex...well, what can you say? A batting lineup which includes Shah, Bopara, ten Doeschate, Napier and Scott Styris is enough to make Rory's blood run cold. Their bowling isn't half bad either, all of ten Doeschate, Napier, Styris and Bopara can turn their arms over to good effect but just for good measure they've got Masters, Tim Southee and Chris Wright, all genuine threats in their own right. This is probably as tough as it gets, but they are beatable as Sussex showed last week.
The team will have been confident of bagging four points from the Glamorgan and Gloucestershire games this weekend, but they have just one. It's been a damp squib in more ways than one. Going out tomorrow night and overhauling an excellent Essex side will do wonders and if the top five play at anything close to their ability, and Dernbach, Linley and Nannes continue their sterling work, it is possible.
The Steve Smith infographic
1 day ago