Saturday, 3 September 2011

Two games from glory

The last time Surrey reached the last four of any major tournament was in 2006 when we journeyed to Trent Bridge for Twenty20 finals day. We lost our semi final that day to Nottinghamshire - tomorrow we face Sussex with the prospect of a Lord's final a maximum of 80 overs away.

Chris Adams has named a 13 man squad containing no surprises whatsoever. The squad and possible team is as follows:

Rory Hamilton-Brown
Steven Davies
Jason Roy
Tom Maynard
Zander de Bruyn
Matthew Spriegel
Chris Schofield
Yasir Arafat
Zafar Ansari
Gareth Batty
Stuart Meaker

Bench: Tim Linley, Gary Wilson

The prospect of Adams changing the formula which saw us win 10 out of 12 matches in the group stage, so the chance of Gary Wilson playing are effectively zero. There is again a tough call to make between Meaker and Linley. Meaker's 7 overs for 65 runs against Durham on Bank Holiday Monday, without taking a wicket, weren't the best advert but it was a very good pitch and the boundaries were short. Does Adams prioritise Linley's long term outstanding form in 2011 or Meaker's short term form evident from the Northamptonshire game? It's a very tough call and I think Adams may stick to the selection he plumped for last week.

Of the batting, everyone but Hamilton-Brown has scored substantial runs of late - though he hasn't exactly looked woefully short of form during a slightly lean period. Spriegel, in such good batting form, has become an important part of the middle order and his presence provides a degree of insurance for the top five. Still, on a pitch which is likely to take turn I would expect the openers to go hard at the new ball.

Sussex are a mighty fine team and will be no pushovers. In Chris Nash and Ed Joyce they have two classy openers who have four CB40 hundreds and over 1,100 runs between them this season. Beyond that they have Joe Gatting, Lou Vincent, Ben Brown and of course Murray Goodwin. They are strong in the bowling too, if we prepare a turning track we'll have Panesar and Nash to deal with, and their seam bowling is strong too with Parnell, Liddle and Amjad in their ranks. Don't forget Mike Yardy either, a danger in both departments. Clearly then there will be no let-up.

Not for five years then have Surrey had something riding on a game quite like this, and with a win over Northants in the Championship likely to come today we could have an intense couple of weeks coming up. We didn't end the group stage with the best record of any team by accident, so we are more than capable of beating Sussex. However I do think we'll have to step up a gear - something we saw in parts against Durham - if we are to make it to the final on the 17th of September. Making it this far is a real achievement no doubt, but having done so only progressing to the final will be satisfying. Come on the 'Rey!

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