Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Rain the likely winner for Guildford

It's July, there's vital cricket to be played, so obviously the forecast for the next four days is dire. If by some minor miracle there is the chance to force a result, this is a crucial game for Surrey against Middlesex who lie second in the table.

The last time a result was managed at Guildford was a crushing 10 wicket win for Durham back in 2008, in both 2009 and 2010 the weather played a significant part in two draws. The squad and the XI expected is as follows:

De Bruyn

12th man: Arafat

Given Linley's superb seven wicket performance against Kent he has to play, Meaker has shown good form in the longer format too and Dernbach is a certainty. Arafat's form in the Twenty20s was patchy at best and his omission from the Kent four day game 10 days or so ago does not bode well for him. You can't help but wonder when the Arafat of old is going to appear, but it won't be long before we all rule out the chance of that happening. That Ansari's selection barely merits a mention speaks volumes of his meteoric rise, but should a very green wicket appear at Guildford, Arafat could yet be shoehorned into the side.

The middle of the Division Two table is so tight, with six teams within seven points of one another, that a win would take us right into the mix for the promotion spots. Not that a win is by any means likely, Middlesex have had a Championship season in stark contrast to their disastrous Twenty20 campaign - they've won half of their games so far. Steven Finn being left out of the England squad is bad news for us because he will slot straight into the Middlesex XI. He'll be joined by Collymore and Murtagh to make a very dangerous seam attack. Their batting has been less impressive of late, but we know only too well that Chris Rogers can anchor any side to a big total.

Instinctively I think we are a better balanced Championship side, Ansari is perhaps a place too high in the order at seven but Batty is a handy insurance policy at number eight. The top six will hopefully have had time to get the rash Twenty20 shots out of their system and our seam attack is in good shape at the moment. We're certainly not giving away much to Middlesex on paper, if anything at all.

The players would do well to forget the events of Thursday-Sunday and draw on the confidence the win last week against Kent will have given them. If a result isn't possible because of the weather we should be looking to pick up whatever bonus points we can, attacking cricket will be the order of the day.

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