Chris Adams has named the same thirteen man squad as played Middlesex last week to travel to the Cheltenham festival and take on Gloucestershire.
This might seem odd given the nature of the defeat at Guildford which was, despite the margin only being six wickets in the end, quite a heavy one. I think reflects the fact that Adams does not think anyone from the Seconds at the moment is a better option, and it's hard to disagree with him on that.
The squad and my expected XI is as follows:
12th men: Ansari, Arafat
The makeup of the lower middle order is a tricky one to call. Batty had an average game against Middlesex with bat and ball but you'd back him to come up with the goods more often than not. If it's a seamer's track Arafat might get the nod after his five-for in the CB40 and if it looks like it might take turn Ansari could well play in place of a batsman - likely to be Arun Harinath. Meaker, Linley and Dernbach seem certain to play.
In the Championship, none of the batsmen has seemed woefully out of form but certainly Hamilton-Brown, Davies, Roy and Ramprakash could do with a big score. Between the four of them they have three fifties and no hundreds in the last three Championship games - that gives an idea of how much we've relied on the batting of Maynard and de Bruyn of late. Harinath was out in single figures twice against Middlesex but he was in at the last minute and it's harsh to judge him on that one performance.
Gloucestershire have surprised me this season, they lie third in the table only two points behind Middlesex (albeit having played a game more) and they beat us fairly comfortably at the Oval. They bowled us out twice cheaply with the impressive Ian Saxelby taking ten wickets in the match. They also seem to have unearthed a genuine first class allrounder in Will Gidman who has taken 27 wickets and scored almost 700 runs. And of course you never count out Jon Lewis.
Adams is right to say that if we win our next two matches we're in the mix for promotion, but if we don't win this week we can surely rule it out for 2011. The defeat to Middlesex was a crushing blow but the dashing hundred from Maynard and some wickets towards the end of the game at least meant there was just a hint of momentum for our players - they need to take that into the game tomorrow. No let offs, no cheap wickets, we have to win.
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