Surrey's limited overs season gets under way tomorrow as Hampshire visit the Oval for the first Yorkshire Bank 40 match of 2013. Chris Adams has named a 14 man squad, one bigger than usual presumably because of the extended period his bowlers spent in the field against Middlesex over the last couple of days.
The 14 names and a possible XI are as follows:
Tom Jewell/Tom Curran
Bench: Tim Linley, Zander de Bruyn
This is as tough a side to pick as I've seen for a long time. Firstly a lot depends on the fitness of Jade Dernbach. He bowled 41 overs over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday and may be in need of a rest. Of course, given how much of a match-winner he is in one day cricket, Adams will want to get him in the side if at all possible. If he doesn't play I would expect Linley to come in. Although Jon Lewis ended last season's CB40 with the distinctly below-par bowling average of 50, he gets through his overs quickly and doesn't give the batsman much, so I think he'll make the cut regardless of Dernbach's availability.
I think the top order is pretty solid, though I am slightly surprised that Rory Burns is being rested for this game. Jason Roy returns to the first team and it would be great to see him in the runs after a dreadful 40 over season in 2012. On the basis of previous years, and the Oval pitches we've seen so far, I'd be amazed if both Batty and Keedy didn't play. Adams also likes to have options in limited overs cricket and the side above, while long in the tail, gives a possible 24 overs of spin and a possible 24 overs of seam. If someone gets collared the skipper can turn to another solid bowling option.
Which of Tom Jewell or Tom Curran plays is anybody's guess but I'd be surprised to see both. Curran comes highly rated, but Jewell has more than earned his place in the side. I have a sneaking suspicion that Adams will plump for the surprise option in Curran. Of course Zander de Bruyn could displace either, but given how much he too bowled against Middlesex he might be given the day off.
Of course there will be pressure on the top order, as there always seems to be for Surrey in 40 over cricket, but should they post a vaguely competitive total there is firepower in the bowling to defend it. I have no doubt that we will miss Matthew Spriegel a great deal. Not just because he scored 220 runs and took nine wickets in 2012, but also because he's a fantastic fielder. Our side tomorrow will be heavily reliant on Ansari, Wilson and Roy in the field.
Hampshire have already played, and won, two 40 over games this week so their YB40 campaign is well under way. They demolished Essex by nine wickets on Friday largely thanks to 129 from James Vince and 65 from Michael Carberry. Those two are crucial to the Hampshire batting, having topped their averages last year as well. They've also got the small matter of Jimmy Adams, George Bailey, Liam Dawson and Adam Wheater to come thereafter. They'll also be able to call on 16 overs of quality spin from Dawson and Danny Briggs.
After winning our first four CB40 games last year the defence of our title rather fell apart. There were two no results and we then only won two of the last six fixtures. The same flying start would be most welcome but there is now much less power in the batting and much less dynamism in the field. Not many sides will match us for experience and nous, but with a reasonably long tail the odd four saved in the field will become all the more important. Less explosive potential in the side means limited overs cricket will probably be much harder work this season - which will make the wins all the more rewarding!