Moving swiftly on from the disappointment of the game against Kent last week the attention turns again to the CB40, the one competition in which we still have a hope of progression. In fact were we to emerge victorious from the two games this week against Northants and Warwickshire we would be guaranteed a place in the semi-finals.
Chris Adams has named a 13 man squad, as predicted at the time Ramprakash appears to have been named in the last squad purely (and prudently) to take his ban in the CB40 rather than the Championship. The 13 names and expected side is as follows:
Bench: Wilson, Schofield
Essentially the same side as played against Northants at the Oval 11 days ago, but with Dernbach coming in probably at the expense of Schofield. Spriegel's sprightly 38 from 33 balls in the last game will likely edge him ahead of Schofield in the selection stakes, and his bowling was no more or less expensive either. Wilson is yet again named in the squad, as he seems to have been for every game this season but I just can't see him getting a game.
The previous game finally saw a successful Davies-Hamilton-Brown partnership and long may that continue. If they are backed up by a strong score from Jason Roy then we will be setting or chasing a big total. I hope Linley is given more opportunity to bowl more than a one over spell in light of his form, Arafat was poor in the last game so a good 8 over spell from him and Dernbach would be most welcome.
Northants and Warwickshire both represent a danger but we have beaten them both recently - though not convincingly by any means, we just edged both games by 12 runs and three wickets respectively. We are familiar with the dangermen on both sides, Brooks, Vaas, Wakely and O'Brien for Northants, Porterfield, Clarke and Chopra for Warwickshire. They are two tough sides and if we can win these two games we more than deserve to go through top of our group.
Adams and his charges will be desperate to sew up progression to the semi-finals before the final two group games against Leicestershire and a particularly tricky looking tie at home to Durham. Particularly after the experience of getting so close to qualification in the Twenty20s. As I've said before, we've scraped together wins in this tournament so far without playing our best cricket, so now would be a good time to really hit our straps. We deserve to be in the position we are, but you have to wonder if morale might be on the wane given recent experiences in the Championship. Adams and Hamilton-Brown will have to put four day concerns on the back-burner for the week and focus on winning these games.