Surrey waved goodbye to Glenn Maxwell on Monday, and by today we're saying hello to another new face, this time Irish allrounder Kevin O'Brien who joins for the final three fixtures of the T20 group stage.
O'Brien is most famous for having hit a 50 ball century in the 2011 World Cup, the fastest in the tournament's history, but he's also got previous in the Twenty20 Cup. In 2011 he hit 119 from just 52 balls for Gloucestershire against Middlesex. He also has 44 wickets at 25 in this format for good measure. It would seem that with qualification for the latter stages still in the balance the management have opted for O'Brien's experience over the raw talent of, say, Tom Curran.
The squad and a possible XI is as follows:
Zander De Bruyn
Bench: Vikram Solanki, Chris Tremlett
Who makes way for O'Brien is the only real question. I would guess he's most likely to come in for Maxwell as a straight swap, but its possible that we could opt for the extra batsman having only posted one big score this season. Facing a powerful Hampshire side, that might not be the worst idea. In that case, O'Brien may play ahead of de Bruyn with Solanki replacing Maxwell. The bowling attack is unlikely to change, though Jade Dernbach will be looking for more support than he got from his colleagues on Monday night.
Hampshire are really flying in the T20 this year having won every game where there's been a result, including a five wicket defeat of Surrey at the Rose Bowl. Michael Carberry has led the way hitting 194 runs at a strike rate of 150 in his five games, though the rest of their batting has been less impressive. Their bowling attack has shared the wickets liberally, Danny Briggs has six while Mascarenhas, Tanvir and Dawson have four apiece.
Surrey's run of four wins was ended by Essex on Monday, and we have slipped to fourth in the table but we have two games in hand over Middlesex who are just two points better off. As we play them and bottom of the table Kent next week, tomorrow's game is crucial in getting the upper hand in the race for qualification. Our batting has thus far failed to click. Davies and Roy have looked strong at times but both have just the one fifty, while the middle order power has failed to materialise. I hope Gary Wilson bats up the order and O'Brien has one of his good days, if that happens we'll give Hampshire a very tough game.