The second half of the Royal London One Day Cup quarter final draw sees the North group winners Northamptonshire host Surrey, the Steelbacks facing a crucial few days with T20 Finals Day just around the corner on Saturday.
Whilst Northants’ could be excused from having one eye on Edgbaston on Saturday the scheduling is the price of success, in a white ball campaign that has been one of success so far, but could all come to nothing in the case of double defeat.
Surrey, on the other hand, have no such distractions. Failing to make the T20 quarter finals means their white ball season rests on the One-Day Cup, where they are looking to reach Lord’s for the second year running, having lost in dramatic fashion to Gloucestershire last September.
Surrey rather snuck into the last eight, beating Middlesex in a rain affected encounter to claim fourth in the South group on the final round of group action. They will go to Wantage Road as favorites, however, boosted by such names as Jason Roy and the returning Kumar Sangakkara, whilst the Curran brothers continue to gain rave reviews.
The visitors ought to beware: being the underdogs is a position Northants have thrived upon in recent years and they will once again be looking forward to the opportunity to upset a test match county on a big occasion.
The Steelbacks have won their last six completed 50 over matches at Wantage Road, which has become something of an unlikely fortress in white ball cricket, with nine wins from 11 in T20 action, and it was their wins on home turf that led to their place at the top of a tight North group.
With five teams all finishing on nine points, it was net run-rate that saw Northants top the pile. It is a testament to the fact that the Steelbacks scored more runs than any other side in the group stages, passing 300 in four of the six times they batted a full 50 overs, including 425 in that memorable opening encounter at Trent Bridge.
The two sides last met at the Oval in the second game of last year’s group stages, Roy smashing a century as Surrey won by the huge margin of 220 runs. A lot has changed since then and, whilst Northants have had no standout performer, they’ve had a habit of having someone always stand up to play the crucial innings.
Northants’ qualification has been a team effort, with eight different batsmen recording half centuries, but with the ball a lot will come down to Richard Gleeson’s pace will prove crucial. The 28 year old has burst onto the scene this year with a knack for taking wickets in the powerplay and, if he can do so again, it could prove decisive.
It is a big day for Sam Curran, who collects his A-Level results before making the trip to Northampton, the town he was born in during father Kevin’s ten year stint at Northants. Sentiment aside, Curran is increasingly proving an all-round threat and his batting in particular is developing all the time, helping to provide balance to the Surrey line up that previous has appeared top heavy.
Northants are waiting on the fitness of Steven Crook, who suffered a calf strain in the Championship match against Leicestershire this week, whilst Richard Levi made his comeback from a shoulder injury in the T20 quarter final last Tuesday, giving David Ripley almost a fully fit squad to choose from, expect the long term absentee Olly Stone.
Northants squad: Alex Wakely, Muhammed Azharullah, Josh Cobb, Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, Rob Keogh, Adam Rossington, Rob Newton, Richard Levi, Rory Kleinveldt, Graeme White, Richard Gleeson, Ben Sanderson
Kumar Sangakkara has re-joined Surrey after his stint in the Carribean Premier League and is included in the squad, replacing Aaron Finch, alongside Ravi Rampul who has also been at the CPL. James Burke, Mark Fottitt and Dom Sibley are also added to the side which beat Middlesex to qualify for the knockouts.
Surrey squad: Gareth Batty, Zafar Ansari, James Burke, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Jade Dernbach, Ben Foakes, Mark Footitt, Stuart Meaker, Ravi Rampul, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Dominic Sibley
Weather and conditions
There is set to be no problems with the weather in Northampton on Thursday evening, with some cloud but crucially no rain forecast. The match is set to be played on the same wicket as the T20 quarter final last week, and Wantage Road pitches are generally at their best on second usage in white ball cricket.
Date: Thursday August 18
Venue: Wantage Road, Northampton
Odds: Northants 11/10, Surrey 8/11