Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Advantage Surrey at Cheltenham

Surrey ended day one against Gloucestershire as the team in the ascendancy after they turned round a day which threatened to be going the way of previous matches which we've lost.

At 117-5 we once again had a team on the rack, they recovered to 239-6 before first Arafat and then Linley finished off the lower order in a fashion we've been crying out for this season, Gloucestershire were all out for 286. You still have to think that's a bit more than they ought to have reached, but the psychological advantage of bowling a side out for under 300 on day one is important.

That Yasir Arafat has finally found some form, following up his five-for at the weekend with another today, is hugely significant in light of Meaker and Dernbach departing for Lions duty any time soon. Tim Linley returned another four-for, to make it 36 Championship wickets in his last six games, he's in an outstandingly rich vein of form.

There were a couple of surprises in the selection, both Arafat and Ansari were named in the XI while poor Arun Harinath was discarded after just two innings and Meaker rested. Based purely on who bowled today and who took the wickets, you'd have to say selecting two spinners seems an odd call. That said, Ansari was apparently off the field for some of the day, accounting for his lack of bowling, and there's always the chance the pitch could deteriorate.

It seems Steven Davies has been restored to the role of opener, Jason Roy being preferred in the middle order. Earlier this season Davies expressed a desire to play in the middle order, so in the absence of Harinath I thought perhaps Maynard, who scored 43 and 26 as an opener against Essex, might have been given the nod. In light of his innings last week, it's not surprising Adams wants to leave him where he is though.

So with the bowlers having done a good job today, for maybe 40-50 runs too many but a good job nonetheless, the batsman must now step up. From the three overs they faced tonight Davies and Hamilton-Brown emerged unscathed, tomorrow morning they need to pile on the runs, aiming for a first innings lead of at least 150.

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