Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Squad named for trip to rainy Nottingham

Surrey's players have had just a single day between the end of the Durham game yesterday and the start of the Nottinghamshire game tomorrow. According to Chris Adams' post-game interview at the Oval, they have spent it training rather than resting - perhaps a variant of 'naughty nets' given their lacklustre performance in the five wicket defeat.

The weather forecast for the next few days is decidedly damp so the prospect of a result is receding by the hour. Nonetheless Chris Adams has named a squad of 13 for the trip to Trent Bridge:

Rory Burns
Arun Harinath
Gary Wilson
Vikram Solanki
Zander de Bruyn
Steven Davies
Jason Roy
Gareth Batty
Stuart Meaker
Tim Linley
Jade Dernbach

12th men: Jon Lewis, Chris Tremlett

Gary Keedy has been dropped but it is perhaps unwise to read too much into that. He had a bad game at the Oval, no question, but his name was always unlikely to feature in the XI for Trent Bridge. He is replaced by Jon Lewis and it is around him that the main selection uncertainty revolves.

At Trent Bridge last year Adams sprung something of a surprise in dropping newly-appointed captain Gareth Batty and playing Murali Kartik as the single spinner, with de Bruyn captaining in Batty's absence. There's an outside chance that Batty may take one for the team again, allowing Jon Lewis to fill the allrounder's slot. Alternatively if he's feeling very bold Adams could drop a batsman and opt for a five man attack, with Lewis or Batty at number seven, but that would be quite a gamble.

Depending on his recovery from "stiffness" before the Durham game Tremlett could yet make the cut, most likely coming in for Linley despite him having done nothing to deserve being dropped. Jade Dernbach will almost certainly return after being "rested" for the last fixture and despite Meaker's poor performance at the Oval he will probably be retained. On balance, I think the side above is most likely.

The batting order is of significant interest. Jason Roy manfully stepped into the substantial hole left by Graeme Smith at the top of the order but could only muster scores of 17 and 4. I am a fully paid up member of the Jason Roy fan club but I do not think he should be opening the batting. Not because he doesn't have the ability, but because in Arun Harinath we have a better option to do the job. Roy should slide down the order from where he can inflict damage after, hopefully, a solid start from the top five. Whether Gary Wilson, Vikram Solanki or Zander de Bruyn fills the number three slot is anyone's guess.

Nottinghamshire lie two places above Surrey in the table (though with a game in hand) having won one and lost two of their games so far. With England's first test starting this week they will mercifully be without Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann who took 16 wickets and scored 162 runs between them in Notts' previous two games. Not bad for your numbers 8 and 9. Not that their batting and bowling is a great deal weaker without them. James Taylor, Alex Hales, Australian opener Ed Cowan, Michael Lumb, Samit Patel and captain Chris Read represents one of the division's stronger batting lineups - both in terms of experience and talent. Their bowling, likely to be spearheaded by Harry Gurney and Ajmal Shahzad, is also of a high quality.

This is a huge test for Surrey, should the two sides manage to get out on the park for any substantial play. Morale will be at a low ebb having been beaten at home not much more than 24 hours ago, and lying in the bottom two after four Championship fixtures. The batsmen have so far been guilty of too many soft dismissals and the bowling attack has only fired in fits and starts. If everyone performs to their potential we are capable of matching and beating the very best, but up to this point in 2013, that just hasn't happened. We need it to start happening now.

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