Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ojha named in squad to face Durham

With a home semi-final already in the bag and only pride and momentum at stake Surrey take on Durham at the Oval tomorrow. Adams has resisted the temptation to name a second string side (rightly in my view) and named the following 14 man squad:

Rory Hamilton-Brown
Steven Davies
Jason Roy
Chris Schofield
Tom Maynard
Zander de Bruyn
Matthew Spriegel
Chris Jordan
Gareth Batty
Tim Linley
Pragyan Ojha

Bench: Gary Wilson, Zafar Ansari, Stuart Meaker

Arafat's absence - and given Adams' comments when Ojha signed it would seem it must be injury related - creates a bit of a selection headache. A like-for-like replacement would be Jordan who offers a similar level of ability with the bat as Arafat, and it would keep the same selection format as for recent games. I would be tempted to go the attacking route and name both Meaker and Linley but given previous selections I think that unlikely. That would also leave us with a very lengthy tail and with Gareth Batty only having provided 20 runs in four innings in the CB40 this year Adams will be reluctant to risk that. The choice between Meaker and Linley is a very tough call, Linley is likely to offer slightly more control but Meaker's extra pace makes him a real threat. I would guess Adams will go with the experience of Linley this time but don't be surprised to see Meaker in the final XI.

That leaves Ansari, Meaker and Wilson as the likely bench. Dernbach's resting ahead of his England duty is a big blow and much will rely on Jordan rediscovering his wicket taking abilities. I am pleased Ojha is playing and if he bowls well he could earn himself a spot in the squad for the semi-final.

On the batting front, Davies' hundred against Leicestershire just goes to show he's not truly been out of form, he just hasn't managed to bag that big score, until now. Hopefully he and Hamilton-Brown can really cash in on another quick start, the captain has only two scores of 50 and nothing better than 57 this season - he'll want to change that. Expecting a third hundred in succession from Roy is a bit much but he's more than capable of it. Maynard and de Bruyn could do with some more runs as well and I would expect Schofield's 'floating' role in the batting order will continue depending on the match situation.

I would guess with Ojha in the side the onus will be on the groundsman to prepare another turning track with the boundaries well out, especially with Batty, Schofield and Spriegel to call upon. There's a very small chance, if a real dustbowl is prepared, that Ansari could play in place of Jordan but that would leave Linley and de Bruyn as the only seam-up bowling options - too much of a gamble I'd have thought. However Durham do have spin bowling pedigree in the shape of Borthwick, Blackwell and Breese so Hamilton-Brown will hope to bat first, post a score well north of 250 and let his spinners tie them down as the pitch wears. Durham aren't light in the batting department either, despite the loss of Stokes to England duty, and with a semi-final spot at stake Collingwood, Mustard, di Venuto and Benkenstein will all have the bit between their teeth. Graham Onions in their seam bowling ranks, along with Mitch Claydon and a bit of Collingwood's dobbers (fitness and pitch dictating) make them a real all-round threat.

This game will be a real test for Surrey. Without their form limited overs bowler and against a side with something to gain and some real quality in their ranks. There could be a temptation to rest on the laurels of already having a guaranteed home semi-final but it's important the winning habit is maintained.

No comments: