Chris Adams has named a 12 man squad for the Championship game with Kent starting at Canterbury tomorrow, Chris Jordan maintains his place after being recalled for the CB40 game last week.
As I said in my last blog, this game has to be seen as a great opportunity to grab maximum points, being against a side who have won just two of their 11 Championship fixtures this season and who were knocked out of the Twenty20 Cup at the weekend. The squad and likely XI is as follows:
12th man: Jordan
So, the same team as for the two wicket win at Gloucestershire. If the pitch has a touch of green there is a strong possibility that Chris Jordan may play instead of Zafar Ansari and he'll need to grab the chance with both hands if it comes his way. Again there is no one in the top six who looks horribly out of form, throughout the season everyone has looked in good touch but only de Bruyn has scored heavily and consistently. Davies hasn't scored the weight of runs we've come to expect but he always looks capable, Roy too is due a score.
The attack, short of Stuart Meaker who is still on Lions duty, could do with Jade Dernbach finding his best form. He's proved an excellent containing option much of the time this season particularly with the new ball but he has just 20 wickets under his belt, at almost 40 apiece. Contrast that with Tim Linley who has 44 at 21 - needless to say much will rest on his shoulders this week, again. I've given up trying to predict which Yasir Arafat will show, but we could really use the deadly version. Canterbury doesn't seem to have heavily favoured spinners or seamers particularly this season so I would expect Ansari and Batty to play, with de Bruyn to fill in where necessary. One thing notable about this season is that Dernbach, Arafat and Batty have had the odd good match here and there, while Linley has been consistently excellent he's not had consistently excellent back up. That's what we need in this game.
The man who tops Kent's batting and bowling averages, and Surrey tormentor-in-chief of late, Azhar Mahmood has not been named in their squad - he's only played four Championship games all season. But that doesn't make them a weak side, Robbie Joseph was poor at the Oval, returning 1-77 off 10 overs but he remains a threat, as do Wahab Riaz and Simon Cook. Rob Key likes to bat against us and in his last 4 Championship innings he averages 72 - including that special hundred at the Oval. Van Jaarsveld, Denly, Northeast and Stevens are also more than capable, although they have only returned three hundreds between them in 2011 (van Jaarsveld is yet to register a ton this season, don't count against him doing so against us!).
I think Hamilton-Brown will look at this game as an opportunity to attack. At the Oval we scored our runs at 4.6 runs per over and then blew away their top order, allowing their tail to cobble together 160 runs, while criminal, was the only thing prevented a more simple win than was eventually achieved. The captain would be ill advised to take Kent lightly of course, but if we want to maintain a chance of promotion, he will have to take some calculated risks - that doesn't mean throwing the bat at everything and sticking in seven slips for every ball - it just means sensible but positive cricket. Over to you chaps...