Following all the fun of the Kevin Pietersen fair and more importantly a magnificent win over Leicestershire in the County Championship, Surrey begin their T20 Blast campaign at home to Glamorgan.
Surrey’s batting blitzkrieg which saw them claim their first win of the season will have boosted confidence levels and provides an excellent introduction to the T20 format. The home side successfully chased 216 from 24 overs in a T20-esque innings, with Steven Davies smashing 115 not out from just 69 deliveries. They boast an exciting batting line-up with Davies joined by the exuberance of Jason Roy and the experience of Kumar Sangakkara, among others. Similarly both Zafar Ansari and Matt Dunn have enjoyed prosperous starts to the summer with the ball.
However, last year’s semi-finalists face a stern test in Glamorgan, who managed a four-run victory at the Oval last year. The Welsh side reached the quarter-finals themselves last year before being knocked out by eventual runners-up Lancashire Lightning, so will be confident of a performance in the English capital. They have so far drawn all four of their County Championship games, so may well be grateful for the opportunity to record a positive result.
Surrey’s progression to Finals Day in last year’s competition owed much to the outstanding and aggressive performances from Jason Roy at the top of the order. The 24-year-old’s 677 runs made him the competition’s leading run scorer and big things are expected of him this year too. The opportunity to provide impetus against Leicestershire was taken and his explosive 67 from 39 balls may be a sign of things to come in this year.
Michael Hogan finished last year’s T20 Blast as one of the stand-out performers of the whole competition, taking 21 wickets as the spearhead of Glamorgan’s attack. The Australian bowler has also begun the season well in the four-day format, taking nine wickets as the Welsh side held on for a draw against Kent in their last game. Hogan finished joint third-highest wicket-taker last year and is likely to shoulder the burden for the away side against Surrey’s daunting batting line-up.
Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz is likely to make his Surrey debut, having recently signed to play in the opening two T20 Blast matches. However, both Moises Henriques and Azhar Mahmood are unavailable, as they are still in India at the IPL. Pietersen is not playing in the T20 Blast for Surrey, having initially only signed for the beginning of the County Championship season, as well as suffering calf and Achilles injuries in the win against Leicestershire.
The visitors have a slightly altered side to last year, with the loss of stalwart Jim Allenby – who scored 543 runs in 2012 – a major change. The side has been rebalanced by new signings Colin Ingram and Craig Meschede. Glamorgan have also signed South African all-rounder Wayne Parnell, but he is unavailable as he is still with the Delhi Daredevils.
Surrey squad: Gareth Batty (c), Zafar Ansari, James Burke, Rory Burns, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Matthew Dunn, Ben Foakes, Aneesh Kapil, Wahab Riaz, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Vikram Solanki, Gary Wilson (wk).
Glamorgan squad: Will Bragg, Ruaidhri Smith, Jacques Rudolph, Mark Wallace (c), Colin Ingram, Ben Wright, Chris Cooke (wk), Craig Meschede, David Lloyd, Andrew Salter, Graham Wagg, Dean Cosker, Michael Hogan.
Weather and conditions
Despite a wet Thursday the weather looks fine in South London for Surrey’s opening T20 Blast fixture. Cloudy skies with outbreaks of sunshine should see highs of 16 degrees, hopefully cancelling out any damp from the previous days and offering the opportunity for a high scoring match.
Date: 15th May 2015
Ground: Kia Oval
Umpires: Mark Benson and Steve O’Shaughnessy
Odds (SkyBet): Surrey 4/9, Glamorgan 7/4
Natwest T20 Blast Match Stats (in association with Opta):
Glamorgan’s run to the quarter-finals last season ended a streak of five years without qualification from the group stage.
Jason Roy’s total of 677 in 2014 was the highest tournament run aggregate in an English T20 season.