The group stages of the CB40 come towards a conclusion in the next few days beginning with a vital clash at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow. The big news is that Kevin Pietersen, fresh from text-gate, is available in this format for the first time this season.
Chris Adams has named a 13 man squad, the names and a possible XI are as follows:
Bench: Zander de Bruyn, Jon Lewis
As surprising to me as Pietersen's inclusion is Rory Burns' exclusion. Fresh from a Championship hundred this week he would've been high on confidence and it strikes me as poor practice to exclude him from the squad unless for fitness reasons, even if his CB40 returns this season have been mediocre (but from only two knocks). Again it is tough to pick which way Adams is going to go on this one so the above is more what I would like to see rather than what he will do. Much will depend on the pitch and any hint of a seamer-friendly surface will see one or both of Lewis or de Bruyn included.
We know how well our bowlers have performed in this format in 2012 and whatever the makeup of the attack tomorrow I am sure they will perform, putting the Durham match down as a mere blip in an otherwise high quality season.
The batting however has been poor, and particularly so lately. No top order batsman in the squad is averaging above 30, and the likes of Jason Roy will be looking to set the record straight with a big score. Hopefully the rest of the batting can feed off the presence of Pietersen in the side.
Hampshire are a point above us in the table, albeit having played a game more, so they are clearly a dangerous side. Their batting has been reliant on Vince and more recently Mackenzie, but they do have Carberry returning from injury which is a major boost to them. Briggs and Wood lead them in terms of wickets but they also rely on Mascarenhas and Dawson to tie batsmen down early on and in the middle overs.
Surrey will have just two games remaining after this and a win would take them a point clear of Hampshire at the top of the table, with a game in hand. Needless to say then, a win would be most welcome indeed. They will have gained a lot of confidence from the win over Middlesex and they know their game much better in this format. Momentum at this stage of the season is key as vital games come thick and fast.