Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Chance for redemption at Lord's

Just less than a year ago Surrey made the arduous trip across London to face our North London rivals. Not only was the trip arduous, watching the game play out wasn't all that fun either. Unless you're a Middlesex fan of course. We were rolled over inside three days having allowed the opposition get to 445, having been 88-4 on the first morning.

So this year we're after revenge. An improved performance no doubt, but we're going there to win. The 13 man squad contains no surprises:

Steven Davies
Jacques Rudolph
Mark Ramprakash
Zander de Bruyn
Rory Hamilton-Brown
Tom Maynard
Jason Roy
Chris Jordan
Jon Lewis
Stuart Meaker
Jade Dernbach

12th men: Tim Linley, Gareth Batty

Leaving out Gareth Batty is a big call, and it's not a choice Chris Adams has made since 2010 when he was omitted from the XI to face Gloucestershire during a rainy September week. The forecast for the next few days isn't great, and there's been a fair bit of moisture around for the last few. Middlesex's strength is in the seam bowling department and the ball always does a bit at Lord's. If Adams is going to leave Batty on the bench anywhere, I think it might be here.

Leaving Tim Linley on the sidelines again is cruel, he's done nothing wrong but then neither did Meaker, Dernbach or Lewis against Sussex. He is to my mind a more likely wicket-taker than Jordan and with Roy at seven, followed by Meaker and Lewis who contributed well with the bat at the Oval the coach might feel there's enough batting to omit the allrounders altogether. I wonder though if Adams will want to discard Jordan just yet, a man in whom he's placed a lot of faith recently.

Four seamers ought to be able to do the job, with back up from de Bruyn and even Hamilton-Brown if absolutely necessary.

It seems fairly certain that Steven Davies will return as opener. To write Jordan the opener off after just one game might seem hasty, but there can be little debate as to who is better suited to the job. Moreover, Jordan is a far better option in the middle order.

Middlesex might have been beaten in their first game at Taunton last week but they weren't completely overawed despite facing a bowling attack spearheaded by one of the form bowlers in international cricket, Vernon Philander. They collapsed to George Dockrell's increasingly impressive left arm spin in the second innings but didn't simply roll over even then, they had Somerset 44-4 chasing a total of just 72.

Their batting is strong. Though Andrew Strauss was not released by the ECB this week, they still have the excellent Chris Rogers at the heart of their top order. Joe Denly made a promising start to his Middlesex career with a first innings 73 last week, and with Robson, Malan and Dexter they have a solid looking batting lineup. We know only too well how dangerous their bowling is, Toby Roland-Jones has terrorised our batting on at least two occasions, Corey Collymore is still dangerous, ditto Tim Murtagh and they have an assortment of allrounders who can pose a threat as well.

On paper at least our side is stronger than it was 12 months ago across batting and bowling. Ramprakash and Rudolph will be hungry for runs, and Davies will want to get his season off and running after sitting on the sidelines in Sri Lanka. If the weather behaves we should be looking at making it two wins out of two.

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