Somerset begin their 2017 NatWest T20 Blast campaign with a trip to the capital to face star-studded Surrey – a side they have struggled against in the shortest form of the game.
Of the 11 meetings between two of the strongest T20 sides, Surrey have been victorious in seven while Somerset have tasted victory just twice.
On paper, these are always two of the standout sides when it comes to T20 cricket, often packed with star names that catch the eye. But both haven’t been successful in the competition since the early years of the format.
Surrey won the first ever T20 crown back in 2003 while Somerset lifted the trophy two years later. With five runners-up medals between them since, both will be desperate to go one better this time around.
Somerset were one of three sides in the South Group who didn’t play on the opening day of the competition on Friday. Surrey meanwhile got their campaign up and running with a tight, tense victory in a high-scoring contest in front of the Sky cameras against Essex at Chelmsford.
Australian Aaron Finch is one of the star names competing in the Blast this season and his quick-fire half-century was pivotal in allowing Surrey to post a solid total – one that Tom Curran ensured was safe with a brilliant final over in the two-run win.
If the two sides produce even half the drama they managed in the Royal London One-Day Cup clash then the spectators are in for a treat. Chasing down Surrey’s 291, Somerset slipped to 22-5 before Roelof van der Merwe’s 122-ball 165 guided them to a remarkable victory.
The Kia Oval is set to be packed on another glorious day in London and this could be one of the standout matches in this season’s group stages.
The Curran brothers continue to be two of the brightest prospects in English cricket, but it was elder brother Tom whose demonstration of nerve and technique at the death on Friday really caught the eye. Needing just ten off the final over Essex looked like favourites, but Curran removed Ravi Bopara and Ashar Zaidi to see Surrey over the line. He’s a crucial cog in their bowling attack.
Somerset seem to lack some of the top-order firepower they have possessed in recent years with the bat and so will look to Peter Trego to provide the big-hitting option. As well as his considerable talents with the bat, Trego is a handy operator with the ball and his experience will also be valuable for Somerset as the competition progresses.
Surrey have named the same 15-man squad as Friday night. Jade Dernbach will skipper the side once again while Finch and Jason Roy provide the early firepower.
Surrey squad: Jade Dernbach (c), Scott Borthwick, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Aaron Finch, Ben Foakes (wk), Stuart Meaker, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Roy, Dom Sibley, Mark Stoneman, Freddie van den Bergh
Jim Allenby leads a Somerset squad which this year doesn’t feature the top-order stardust of Chris Gayle. Instead New Zealander Corey Anderson is the dangerous overseas weapon, with the ever-reliable James Hildreth a key figure in the middle order.
Somerset squad: Jim Allenby (c), Corey Anderson, Josh Davey, Steven Davies (wk), Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Adam Hose, Roelof van der Merwe, Johann Myburgh, Craig Overton, Peter Trego, Max Waller
Weather and Conditions
It’s set to be another sunny, warm afternoon in London. The pitch at the Kia Oval is always a cracking one to bat on and this should be no different.
Date: July 9th
Ground: Kia Oval
Umpires: Paul Baldwin & David Milns
Odds (SkyBet): Surrey 4/6, Somerset 6/5