Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Championship cricket returns at Guildford

After a month of crash bang wallop Twenty20 cricket Championship cricket is back on the agenda. So much has happened in the intervening period that it feels like an awful lot longer than a month since the players last ventured out in whites.

Chris Adams has named a very different looking squad to that which faced Sussex, unsurprisingly. The 13 names and a possible XI are as follows:

Steven Davies
Jason Roy
Kevin Pietersen
Zander de Bruyn
Rory Burns
Zafar Ansari
Gareth Batty
Murali Kartik
Jon Lewis
Stuart Meaker
Chris Tremlett

12th men: Tim Linley, Chris Jordan

Kevin Pietersen remains with the squad to get some four day cricket before the South Africa series starts and his experience (not to mention his talent) will be invaluable. Rory Burns and Zafar Ansari are the men chosen to replace the irreplaceable Ramprakash and Maynard. Who opens the batting will again be interesting to see, with Ramprakash having done the job at Horsham. Arun Harinath was set to partner Steven Davies in this game before he suffered a thumb injury at the weekend, so I would expect one of Roy or possibly Burns to step into the breach.

The bowling attack looks very strong, Tremlett looks set to make his Championship bow in 2012 and in Jon Lewis and Stuart Meaker he has two well rested and willing allies. Kartik and Batty will tie down batsmen, and Ansari is there on standby should the skipper need to change things round. Such a strong bowling attack does not come without risks though. The batting, with Ansari at six, looks on the thin side. I don't doubt Zafar has it in him to bat in the top six one day but it is possibly a bit early for him. His head is so firmly screwed on though that I don't expect him to disappoint.

Lancashire, the reigning County Champions, have disappointed so far this season. They have, like us, registered just a single victory in the Championship and indeed lie only eight points ahead of us in the table. They are dangerous though. They have three players with over 400 runs this season in Prince, Horton and Croft and their bowling covers all bases with Chapple and Shahzad spearheading the seam attack and Keedy and Kerrigan doing the spinning.

The bottom four sides in the Championship are playing each other this week and both games may well fall victim to the weather, which will leave us back where we started, but with one fewer fixture in which to rescue matters. Our batsmen are, by and large, searching for form and our bowlers don't have many miles in their legs at the moment. This will be a real challenge for Surrey to get back in business, if they can dodge the showers and get some runs under their belt it will go a long way to setting them on their way.

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