Tuesday, 14 August 2012

No Pietersen for crucial Middlesex clash

Who am I kidding, they're all crucial from now on. The first of two remaining home games this season begins tomorrow and our North London rivals are the visitors. Two major bits of news, Kevin Pietersen will not play despite not being engaged with England and Rory Hamilton-Brown makes his long-awaited Championship return.

Chris Adams has named a 14 man squad for this game, the names and a possible XI are as follows:

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

12th men: Matthew Spriegel, Tim Linley, Chris Jordan

This is as hard a team to pick as there's been this season in my view. There is no doubt that the groundsman will have been asked to prepare as dry a pitch as possible to accentuate our advantage in the spin department. That begs the question of whether Adams will be bold enough to go in with just two seamers thereby strengthening our brittle batting. He could alternatively play Chris Jordan in place of a batsman, probably Arun Harinath (though de Bruyn has done little to justify his place of late). It seems likely that both Spriegel and Linley will miss out either way which is hard on them, continuing their in-out-in-out season of first team cricket.

The good news is that Hamilton-Brown is back in the fray. He has not played first class cricket since that dreadful game against Sussex at Horsham, missing five games in the process but despite that he remains comfortably our leading scorer in Championship cricket. The Hamilton-Brown we'd come to know before June's horrible turn of events would be a massive boost to the team right now.

The not-so-good news is that Kevin Pietersen won't play. The club did apparently enquire as to his availability for this game but he's nowhere to be seen. That means one of two things has happened, either the man himself said he didn't want to play or the ECB have told Surrey he's not available. I sense the latter is more likely, but neither would reflect well on those involved. Whatever has gone on behind the scenes, not being able to select KP at a time when our batting is suffering is a huge blow to our chances.

Middlesex have problems of their own. Their form has taken a turn for the worse with losses to Durham and Sussex in recent weeks and if they're not careful they could be dragged into the relegation mire. Their main spin bowling option, Rayner, will miss this game with a hand injury leaving them relying largely on Tom Smith's left arm spin. They have also dropped John Simpson in favour of Adam Rossington. That's not to say they're without threat, Roland-Jones and Murtagh have more than 80 wickets between them and Denly and Rogers have registered over 1,500 runs.

Given Middlesex's form and home advantage, this is nothing less than a must win game. The weather could play a part with rain forecast at some point on most of the next four days, but hopefully there will be enough time for a result to be had. A defeat here would be a big blow to morale and would make lifting the team for the final month of the season extremely difficult. If the batting, inspired by the former captain's return, can begin to fire and deliver enough runs so that Kartik and Batty can do the business with the ball on a turning pitch, we may begin to see things turn around.


Anonymous said...

Watched Sussex Middlesex game, on current form Toby Roland Jones is in a different league to our quicks.
Also Denly, Rogers and Robson are in better nick with the bat
It's going to be close.

GreenJJ said...

TRJ is in fine form, I'd certainly pick him ahead of Jon Lewis on form. And yes, Denly and Rogers are the better bets just now. I hope its going to be close!

Anonymous said...

Folks: Went to members forum today am. Lots of q? why are are so crap @ County and 2020. After being dismissed for 144, best part of the day was free breakfast.

Won the toss and decided to bat in overcast conditions. Gross incompetence all round. Middx 99-1 @COP. Game lost already after day 1
Has anybody survived in county championship with only 1 win?? Don't think so.

DIV2 again next season.. I'm afraid that rubbish starts at the top and works its way down.

Not all bad news though, can't get relegated from DIV2. Yippee.
ADAMS is very good at shite diatribe. Need to replace most of the team I'm afraid. Only good enough for minor counties.

No. not a bad 40 overside. Yippee

Paul A said...

I am sorry I missed the Q and A but agree that the club is in a sorry state. The failure to strengthen the side during the close season has cost us dearly. No first team opening batsmen at all plus the failure of Rudolph, Ramps, De Bruyn and Davies to score any runs mean that most division one teams can roll us over in a couple of sessions. Added to the mix two very poor choices of overseas player, Nannes (far too old - he was dreadful) and Kartik (very average jobbing cricketer) has not helped the situation. Is Adams up to the job? I think we also need to look at the coaching - rarely can so many batsmen be out of form at the same time at a professional club. Solanki is joining us next year but I would dearly like to see us sign an overseas batsman who can play for the whole season and be captain of the club. What I don't want to see is Harinath, Spriegel (decent one day player) Jordan in the 4 day team. All tried, tested and not up to professional cricket. But more than that I want to see some determination, guts and pride! At the moment the team resembles a defeated army, stumbling around the battlefield looking for someone to surrender to.

GreenJJ said...

Anon - I'm with you on many of those concerns, though I'm not quite ready to throw the towel in until its mathematically impossible - and that isn't just Adams "management speak"! One thing's for sure, it's been massively disappointing of late and more questions appear by the day.

Paul - again, agree with much of what you say. The overseas issue is tricky, to me it seems that many of our overseas signings are made on a whim and based on last season's form rather than on thorough research. The coaching is a concern without a doubt, like you say, is it just a coincidence that so many batsmen are out of form at the same time? I am disappointed by Harinath since his return, I'd always thought he was up to the challenge but he seems to be out of his depth I fear. Bumble said on the CB40 commentary the other night that Surrey were a team lacking in team spirit and fight, or something along those lines. I can't tell you how disappointing that is to hear.