Saturday, 20 August 2011

Home semi-final up for grabs

With a semi-final spot in the bag there might be a temptation for Surrey to take their foot off the gas, but they have to keep pushing because 1) a home semi-final is important and 2) keeping momentum going will help in all forms of cricket. In reality I'm not sure this group of players know anything less than full throttle anyway!

Chris Adams can welcome back Stuart Meaker from England Lions duty and will have the use of Jade Dernbach for this game before he departs for Ireland with the full England side. The squad and expected XI is as follows:

De Bruyn

Bench: Ansari, Wilson, Linley

This construct of the bowling attack is quite a tough one to call for this game. There will be a temptation of course to stick to a winning formula with the spin barrage of Batty, Ansari, Schofield and Spriegel (with some Hamilton-Brown thrown in for good measure too) but there haven't been large numbers of wickets falling to spinners at Grace Road this year. In the two games Leicestershire have won in the CB40 this season (and they were both at Grace Road) most of the wickets fell to seamers.

Given Schofield's new found promotion to number four - and I think it's worth persisting with that experiment for now - he seems to have a home in the side. Spriegel bowled very well at Edgbaston and has been in decent nick with the bat, so it probably comes down to two of Meaker, Batty and Ansari. Meaker bowled very well against Leicestershire at the Oval earlier in the season in both the Championship and CB40 games (11 wickets all told) so I hope he gets the nod. It's very hard to pick one of Batty or Ansari but I wonder if Batty's experience might give him the spot.

There can be no changes in the batting but now that Roy has got the big score that had been coming for a while, one of Davies or Hamilton-Brown will dearly want to follow suit after some good starts lately.

Leicestershire have been poor in the CB40 this season with a tendency towards the collapse. Chasing just 207 at the Oval they collapsed from 70-0 to 189 all out and against Durham they fared even worse, collapsing from 72-0 to 155 all out. In Cobb and Taylor they have two very exciting top order batsmen and Taylor (if he plays) is in great form following two hundreds for the England Lions. I also really like their bowling attack, Nathan Buck, Jigar Naik and Harry Gurney are three under rated bowlers and we all know what Hoggard and Henderson are capable of.

It's very important, especially given the impressive nature of the win against Warwickshire, that we maintain the momentum we've gained from nine consecutive wins in this format. If we are to peak at the right time and go all the way in this competition we can't allow the last two games to just drift. If we win a home semi-final is guaranteed which would move us a big step closer to Lord's in September.

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