Friday, 29 June 2012

Busy T20 period begins against Hampshire

Surrey's players will have had a little more than a week off since the emotional game at Chelmsford last Friday night when they face Hampshire tomorrow. The fight they showed against Essex was hugely impressive in the circumstances, and hopefully the brief rest period will have allowed them to recharge their batteries somewhat. They'll need it because they have six games coming up in the next eight days.

Chris Adams has named a 14 man squad to travel to the Ageas Bowl for the game, the squad and possible XI is as follows:

Jason Roy
Steven Davies
Rory Hamilton-Brown
Rory Burns
Matthew Spriegel
Gary Wilson
Zafar Ansari
Gareth Batty
Murali Kartik
Stuart Meaker
Chris Tremlett

Bench: Zander de Bruyn, Chris Jordan, Dirk Nannes

Gareth Batty will continue as captain for the time being as Rory Hamilton-Brown gets an extended break from the pressures which the captaincy brings. He will be allowed all the time he needs to get his head back in the right place. He will probably continue to bat at number three, and again there will be a fair bit of pressure on his shoulders and those of Davies and Jason Roy, who you have to feel is due a big score.

I can't see a place in the side for Chris Jordan so the decisions come down to Burns or de Bruyn, and Meaker or Nannes. Despite his relatively low score against Essex I think Burns should be given another go at number four. His form for the Second XI suggests he is a better bet than Zander de Bruyn at the moment and he is a bright spark in Surrey's future. Nannes has returned figures of 1-67 from his three games this year and has been our most expensive bowler by a distance so far. Although Meaker hasn't been very economical either, he represents the bigger threat at the moment for me.

A lot of the wicket-taking in the four games so far has fallen to Gareth Batty, so Tremlett's return to the side, taking wickets in the process, is a huge plus. Kartik hasn't proven much of a threat, but he has been economical and strangling sides is often what we do best.

Hampshire have the same record as us this year, winning two games and losing two. They are on a bit of a roll, having beaten Middlesex and Kent reasonably comfortably in their most recent games. They are without Michael Carberry who has a knee injury, but Adams, Vince, Ervine and Simon Katich pose a real threat to Surrey's bowlers. In Australian allrounder Glenn Maxwell they have something of an unknown quantity but he has impressed with bat and ball at times already. Chris Wood is a bowler I always enjoy watching, and Danny Briggs' quality is well known.

The next eight days will decide whether or not we progress in the Twenty20. It's tempting to say that in the circumstances cricket is irrelevant, but I don't subscribe to that, and I doubt the players would either. The Adams doctrine, packing the bowling and backing your batsmen, can take us all the way and beating Hampshire tomorrow could set us off on the kind of run that can define the remainder of our season. Also, as of Monday's game (also against Hampshire) Adams will have the talents of Kevin Pietersen to call on - a welcome boost.

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