Sunday, 9 June 2013

Ansari returns for Lancashire game

It is a measure of how impressive a player Zafar Ansari is at such a young age that even in a squad including Ricky Ponting, I still think Ansari is the key man. He's available today and hopefully will be for the rest of the season.

A 13 man squad has been named for the game against Lancashire, a possible XI is below:

Jason Roy
Steven Davies
Vikram Solanki
Ricky Ponting
Gary Wilson
Zafar Ansari
Zander de Bruyn
Azhar Mahmood
Jon Lewis
Jade Dernbach
Gary Keedy

Bench: Tom Jewell, Chris Tremlett

This is a tough one to call. It would be very un-Adams going in without an out-and-out spinner, so Gary Keedy is very likely to play and he did bowl well against Essex so why not. The pitch for the YB40 game looked to have a touch more grass on it than the Championship wicket so there is an outside chance that Chris Tremlett could make the XI, leaving Ansari as the only spinning option. Stuart Meaker has been, rather vaguely, deemed "unfit for selection" despite only sending down 23 overs against Warwickshire this week.

Although I would like to see Tom Jewell persisted with, I think with Jade Dernbach available again he may be dropped to the bench. Jewell was thrown the ball at a particularly tricky time during the Essex game and while he didn't bowl particularly well, it would be harsh to judge him on that one performance. For me, someone like Jewell or Tom Curran should always be playing ahead of Azhar Mahmood, or indeed Zander de Bruyn.

The batting was a disaster against Essex but only the week before against Derbyshire the openers looked supreme. It's a relief that Steven Davies' knee injury is not serious and he's recovered in time for this match. Where de Bruyn bats is anyone's guess, he was demoted to number seven against Essex and may well not appear until then in this game as well. He's averaging 18 with the bat and 126 with the ball in this format, in my opinion he should be nowhere near the first team.

We know where Lancashire's strengths lie having been mugged by them at Old Trafford. They will be all the stronger in this fixture though as Glen Chapple and Simon Katich are available again. Their spinners, Kerrigan, Croft and Parry gave the Surrey batsmen nightmares in the previous game between the sides and its hard to pick much of a weakness in their bowling attack.

As we bump along the nether regions of the Championship table, so we are also coming to crunch time in the YB40. Last year the lowest points total to qualify for the semi-finals was 16, which means we probably need to win five of the six remaining fixtures to stand a chance of qualifying this year. That's a pretty tall order. Hopefully Ponting's fighting spirit can be instilled in the rest of the squad and we can stay in contention.

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