Warwickshire’s match with Surrey is a contest between two teams struggling to meet high expectations.
In his exclusive pre-season interview with Deep Extra Cover, Warwickshire Chief Executive Neil Snowball was clear that he expected the club to win at least a trophy a season. Now, sitting in the middle of the Championship table and out of the T20 Blast, the Midland team are relying on the Royal London One-Day Cup to deliver this year’s silverware.
Surrey are likewise looking to the 50 over competition to save their season from under-achievement. On his return to South Africa, recent Surrey import Chris Morris has said: “In a few years time, I reckon Surrey will be unstoppable.” The trouble is, that is a familiar story. Success for Surrey always seems to be a season or so away. Even the most loyal supporters are tiring of the prospect of jam tomorrow.
A defeat by Yorkshire in their last match has pretty well snuffed out Warwickshire’s hopes of a late run to the title, whereas their more pessimistic supporters worry that relegation is still statistically possible.
Surrey’s relegation worries are more serious. They are just one place above the relegation places but have played a game more than both Nottinghamshire and Hampshire below them.
When the two teams met last month at Guildford, Warwickshire triumphed by ten wickets so Surrey will be seeking (and needing) revenge.
Warwickshire’s batsmen, Jonathan Trott and Varun Chopra aside, have struggled to deliver this year. Even Ian Bell, apart from one big hundred, has failed to score the runs expected of him, as has young batting star Sam Hain. Three men have carried the bowling. Left armer Keith Barker and off-spinner Jeetan Patel have each taken 41 wickets. Rikki Clarke, with 29 victims plus 18 catches, has given good support.
What the Bears need, in both the batting and bowling is more young players pressing for places. Opener Andy Umeed began with a century but has since struggled. Leg spinner Josh Poysden has been given few opportunities.
Ben Foakes is averaging just under 50 with the bat for Surrey but no-one else of the regulars in the batting line-up averages above 40. Jason Roy’s hundred against Middlesex was a welcome return to form for him in four-day cricket. In the bowling department, captain Gareth Batty tops the list with 36 victims. Stuart Meaker has taken important wickets and Mark Footitt is now fit to deliver on the potential that caused Surrey to sign him.
Keith Barker continues to deliver all-round excellence for Warwickshire. In addition to his wickets, he has contributed a century and three fifties with the bat. Although still under thirty, his international ambitions may not now be realised. But at county level, he is recognised as an outstanding performer.
For Surrey, the return of Zafar Ansari to fitness has been a big boost. His all-round skills were much missed. Whilst he had a bad match with the bat against Middlesex, he contributed six wickets with his left arm spin. He is the kind of player who manages to leave his mark on most matches. At age 24, he offers great hope for the future, both with Surrey and, potentially, with England.
Warwickshire will be without Chris Woakes who is on England duty. Irishman Mark Adair is out for the season with a back injury. Sam Hain and Boyd Rankin are also injured. Laurie Evans has been recalled from his loan to Northants and is in line to replace Hain.
Warwickshire squad:> Ian Bell (c), Tim Ambrose (wk), Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Varun Chopra, Laurie Evans, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid, Jeetan Patel, Jonathan Trott, Ian Westwood, Chris Wright
For Surrey, the return of ex-Bear Kumar Sangakkara from his stint in the Caribbean Premier League will be welcomed. Gary Wilson and Arun Harinath are both named in the squad.
Surrey squad: Gareth Batty (c), Zafar Ansari, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Ben Foakes, Mark Footitt, Arun Harinath, Stuart Meaker, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Dominic Sibley, Gary Wilson
Weather and conditionsDate: 13th to 16th August 2016
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Edgbaston stadium
Umpires: Nigel Cowley and Tim Robinson
(SkyBet): Warwickshire 8/13, Surrey 5/4