Chris Adams has taken the bold step of dropping Mark Ramprakash, a living Surrey legend, from the squad to face Somerset for the Championship game starting tomorrow. I can't imagine it was an easy conversation to have, but it is the right decision.
Now is not the time to analyse whether or not this is the end of an era at Surrey. Adams was at pains to stress that Ramprakash has been told to go away for "a couple of weeks" to get his game in order. There are four Second XI games in that time, and Ramps himself may even elect to go back to his club. There is plenty of cricket for him to find his touch again. On Twitter he said he was disappointed, fit and raring to go. I am quite sure everyone will want to see him back as soon as possible, a pair inside a day against Worcestershire is not the way to call time on a career like his.
So the Ramprakash-less thirteen man squad, and a possible XI is as follows:
Zander de Bruyn
12th men: Chris Jordan, Tim Linley
The squad is light two big names, one already mentioned and also Kevin Pietersen, whose place in the squad has been taken by Chris Jordan. The balance of the squad suggests that Adams will elect to play Jordan at number seven but I would prefer to see the coach back his top six batsmen to get the runs and play four frontline seamers. Batty, Meaker and Lewis should be able cobble together enough from numbers 7, 8 and 9 to give a competitive total.
Although Ramprakash has been stealing the headlines, he's not the only one in need of some runs. Rudolph, Davies and de Bruyn have mustered just three fifties from 20 innings between them. Rudolph's first innings 68 suggested something approaching form so offers hope, but the other two will want to get some runs on the board. We cannot always rely on Maynard and Hamilton-Brown to score the runs.
Only Durham and Worcestershire are averaging lower first innings totals than Surrey this season, we're typically collecting significantly less that 200 runs and that has to change if we're to start moving up the table. Given the weather of late I don't doubt the pitch at the Oval will probably be a challenge for our batsmen, but it is essential that they knuckle down.
The bowling however has been excellent, and given the debut of Edwards an attack of him, Lewis and the returning Meaker and Dernbach will trouble almost any Championship side. Linley will be cursing Edwards' four second innings wickets, especially as he bagged four of his own in the first, but I think Adams likes that x-factor that Edwards' extra pace brings.
Somerset have not (at the time of writing) named their squad for tomorrow's game, perhaps they're locked in last minute negotiations with Cricket South Africa as to whether they are allowed to play Vernon Philander. The rest of their bowling can only be described as threadbare with Kirby, Hussain and Dibble all out injured. Craig Overton and the impressive Meschede didn't let the side down against Durham last week though, with Trego in support and possibly Philander too it's not all bad news for them. There's also their batting to consider, Kieswetter, Compton and Hildreth have all been in the runs.
For once the weather looks to be playing ball, for tomorrow and Thursday at least the forecast is not too bad so we should get a good start to the game. Somerset are a weaker side than normal at the moment so Surrey will hope to take advantage of that. A win here would put our season back on track after the weather scuppered recent results.