Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Tough Warwickshire assignment awaits

County Championship table-toppers Warwickshire visit the Oval this week in what is set to be Surrey's stiffest test since returning to Division One cricket this year.

Chris Adams has named the same 13 man squad as faced Somerset last week. The squad and possible XI is as follows:

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

12th men: Tim Linley, George Edwards

There is no word yet as to when Murali Kartik will arrive post-IPL but this could well prove to be Rudolph's last game this season for Surrey. It's hard to conclude that his stint has been anything other than a disappointment with just one fifty in eight Championship visits to the crease. However that one fifty was an innings of real importance against Worcestershire, and he can count himself unlucky to have only played one CB40 match. He'll want to go out with at least a hundred to his name in Surrey colours and if the Oval pitch is as flat as last week's, he won't have many better opportunities.

Chris Jordan looks set to retain his place, though figures of 78 runs at an average of 9 and 7 wickets at 40 beg the question why. He simply hasn't delivered this season and doesn't appear to be in any kind of form. Some time in the Seconds might serve him well. If I was Adams I'd plump for a five man attack minus Jordan and stick Batty at seven. It's a gamble against a high class Warwickshire attack but I think Linley or Edwards look a more likely wicket taking option than Jordan.

Dernbach should return and surely Adams will resist the temptation to rest Meaker in light of his spectacular 11 wicket return against Somerset. Resting Meaker has already cost us one game this season, Adams won't want to risk making that two. Jon Lewis, Surrey's redoubtable workhorse, will also probably retain his place.

After the Somerset game the batsmen will be sitting more comfortably. Certainly Davies and de Bruyn's first innings runs last week will have calmed some nerves, but we are still overly reliant on Maynard and Hamilton-Brown.

Warwickshire have quality right through the order. Varun Chopra is one of a few opening batsmen around the county circuit with an eye on Andrew Strauss's spot in the England side and has two hundreds to his name this season. Westwood and Porterfield haven't scored heavily of late but are still strong top order batsmen, Darren Maddy and Tim Ambrose are consistent county performers. However captain Troughton has just 47 runs to his name this year and his form must be a concern.

It is Warwickshire's plethora of allrounders, Rikki Clarke, Keith Barker and the recently returned Chris Woakes that gives them such a great balance. I'm perpetually impressed by Woakes' first class figures, he really is one of the best allrounders in English cricket. They also have Chris Wright and Jeetan Patel, two reliable performers, to chip in as well.

It's no accident that Warwickshire are topping the table, they are a very good cricketing side and Surrey will have a real fight on their hands. There is no real gaping weakness in either their batting or bowling and we'll have to be on top of our game to overcome them. At least the weather shouldn't be a concern, it's set fair for the next four days.