Thursday, 26 July 2012

Squad named for tough Warwickshire assignment

Chris Adams and his relegation-threatened troupe travel to Edgbaston this weekend to face Division One pace-setters Warwickshire. It could prove to be their toughest test of a troubled season.

The 13 man squad, and a possible XI is as follows:

Zafar Ansari
Rory Burns
Arun Harinath
Zander de Bruyn
Steven Davies
Jason Roy
Gareth Batty
Murali Kartik
Stuart Meaker
Jade Dernbach
Jon Lewis

12th men: Chris Jordan, Tim Linley

The name conspicuous by its absence is of course Matthew Spriegel's who after one innings in a rain-ruined game seems to have been summarily cast aside, with no apparent reference to an injury. Frankly I am bemused by this decision, and not for the first time this season. I have nothing against Chris Jordan but why should he get so many more opportunities to prove himself in Championship cricket when Spriegel gets barely any? Spriegel, whose contract extension expires at the end of the year, must be increasingly frustrated at being left on the sidelines. He has not set the world alight with his performances this year but he is a solid pro, an excellent fielder and has captained the Second XI on many occasions.

Arun Harinath, who would have played two games ago but for an injury, replaces Spriegel in the side. If the batting order in this week's Second XI game is anything to go by, he will slot in at three rather than continuing the opening batsman merry-go-round. Ansari and Burns performed more than adequately against Nottinghamshire and Burns made another good 80+ score for the seconds. I have my doubts as to whether Ansari is a long term option at the top though, I feel he is much better suited to the middle order.

The batting is a conundrum at the moment, the experienced members of the top six are short of form and those in any sort of form are short of experience. Somehow they have to find a way to make it work.

On the bowling front Jade Dernbach makes a welcome return from the side injury which kept him out of much of England's ODI series against Australia. Assuming he is fit I would expect him to slot into the side, despite Tim Linley's seven wicket haul against Warwickshire's Second XI. Given how prolific Jeetan Patel has been for Warwickshire this season I would guess Adams will plump for two spinners, meaning the captaincy will return to Gareth Batty. As for the vice captaincy, well, who knows?

Warwickshire are not top of the County Championship by accident, they are a seriously good outfit. Their top order batsmen have not been in the best form, though Chopra has over 500 runs to his name, but it hasn't really mattered, such is the strength of their middle and lower order. Rikki Clarke is averaging 67, Chris Woakes 51. Their one weak link, skipper Jim Troughton, is no longer a weak link with scores of 134 and 81 in recent games. Their bowling is strong too, Patel is a low key overseas signing but no less effective for it, he has 34 wickets at 22 this season and Woakes, Clarke, Barker and Wright will all chip in as well.

If we thought Nottinghamshire were a tough side to face, title-chasing Warwickshire are tougher still. The weather may have a say on Sunday, but otherwise this game looks set fair. Surrey can take heart from their game at the Oval earlier this season though, where they reduced Warwickshire to 37-4 chasing 222 before Ambrose and Clarke saw them home.

Six games remaining, six games in which to retain our first division status. If our bowling attack performs to the level they should, we can run any side in the country close. But Warwickshire are a tough, experienced side who churn out results with ruthless efficiency. If we can get a result at Edgbaston it could prove the spark to revive our season, if we're steamrollered, it could spell the end.


Rob D. said...

What is the deal with our supposed captain at the moment? It's all gone very quiet on that front and I for one am getting a bit cheesed off with his extended absence. In what other job would this be allowed to happen?

On the fae of it, RHB is showing that he is weak and has no responsibility towards the collective. I will be severely peed off if he breezes back in and is rehanded the captaincy.

Whether or not we are getting the resuults we need, the rest of the squad is standing up to be counted and pulling together - precisely the opposite of the example being shown by our alleged leader on the pitch.

GreenJJ said...

I don't know I'm afraid Rob, there has been no information forthcoming from the club on this matter. We can only assume he remains on indefinite compassionate leave.

It would seem the coach has also been sent on some kind of compassionate leave as well. So we are without a captain and a coach for this game.

miltonkeynesman said...

Interesting comment from Rob D. Difficult issue. I spent many years in an HR Dept. and experience tells me deaths within families and of close friends affect people very differently, dependent on many variables around the circumstances of the death.

I am a great believer in getting some normality and stability back into your life asap and a return to work is often a good idea. However in this case it is a workplace in the public eye and lots of the public both wish to acknowledge the death and voyeuristically want to know a bit more about what has happened when really it aint our business and any public statements should come via the inquest.

One assumes someone in authority at Surrey is dealing with this. Could they say more publicly? Perhaps, but the exact situation with RHB is actually a private employer/employee one which needs some respect. Nobody outside of a close few really knows what went on that night (and before), and why the skipper feels as he does.

Ultimately it is with Surrey to talk to RHB and bring this to a head at some stage, but when? Not really for us to say. But remember if he had broken a leg nobody would be fretting over a return before it was healed. And I might point out it appears Mr Tremlett is off back to hospital again if reports are correct and no-one is getting pissed off with him - at least not criticising his attitude.

I would love the skipper back and he probably knows many fans feel this way. It would be beyond sad if he walked away, but ultimately it is down to him. Others have left cricket for all sorts of reasons - as a lad I was fond of Dudley Owen-Thomas and I think he left to work in the City !!!! - there are many other examples.

Surrey as a club survive and move on after every retirement and every loss. Whatever happens this season - and I would love us to stay in Div1 - we'll be back playing next year. Meanwhile remember Lords 2011 !!!

PS All to play for at Edgbaston.


GreenJJ said...

I agree MKM, it would be truly a massive waste of a massive talent if Rory was lost to the game, and I am desperate for him to return.

I would take issue a bit with what you say - yes he is a public figure and that's why initially I said he was entitled to a break, its not a normal situation. But precisely because of that reason I believe the club should be more open with what is going on. That doesn't have to be a full and frank disclosure, but perhaps just the odd reference? "Rory is still absent on compassionate leave" would suffice!

Of course, we will move on as a club, its bigger than any one man and should we survive I'll be delighted.

And yes, absolutely all to play for!

miltonkeynesman said...

Josh - I do agree that Surrey could be & should be saying a bit more to the fans, difficult though that might be. The absence of any remarks around Adams absence is a bit thoughtless, particularly towards those fans who journeyed to Edgbaston.

In most work arenas an absence like RHB's could breed resentment amongst those covering for an absent colleague if they dont understand the reasons behind the absence, although others might view it as an overtime opportunity ! Again my experience suggests good management can help a lot by saying enough to explain an absence without compromising confidentiality.

I would guess that in a situation like this where they are a very tight knit team, the other players are only too aware of RHB's feelings. They are just getting on with it now. As I said before they will be used to absences through injury and accept it as a chance for someone else to come in and do a job. What the attitude will be when or if he returns remains to be seen, but if he returns soonish then it would probably be accepted particularly as he would appear to have a depth of loyalty and indeed affection from his team mates.

The knack is for someone in authority at the Club who is close to RHB to work with him to see him through this. Ideally it should be Adams although he might require good HR or medical advice to help guide him. Will he come back ? Ultimately only RHB can make that decision and funnily enough we should all be prepared to accept and applaud what he himself chooses to do. Good wishes to him.


Rob D. said...

I guess my comments were borne out of frustration. Perhaps they were a bit harsh but from the outside looking in, all I see is a group of players trying to pull together and get on with it - without the man who is supposed to be the leader and figurehead of the team on the pitch.

I just think that as a high profile sports team, there is a responsibility to keep supporters, sponsors and the cricket world at large informed. And I think a word from RHB himself would do no harm either. I wonder what good moping around away from cricket is doing him?