There is little doubt that with a good bowling attack and the three leading run-scorers in Division One, Surrey are performing far below their weight in red-ball cricket this season.
Their position in the table is a mirage, a false suggestion of success, for sitting third means little when ten from 12 matches have been drawn and they are a mere 13 points away from the second relegation spot.
It is dangerous territory in this latter stage of the season and particularly given that they have shared the spoils in each of the last six fixtures, not having won since the opening week.
Somerset are in prime position to take advantage of that, having wrapped up comprehensive victories over Warwickshire and Lancashire in the past two weeks.
Indeed, before that Warwickshire win they were seventh and 23 points off Yorkshire; now they sit sixth, level on points with Middlesex who are below them on fewer wins.
Importantly, Taunton plays host to the 2016 champions in the final week of the season. A win at The Oval for the visitors this week could drag themselves within touching distance of safety – and push both of their final two opponents further into a relegation scrap.
“All day in the field he just tells you how tired he is,” says Ben Foakes of Kumar Sangakkara. “He’s done.” The Sri Lankan has just two first-class matches remaining before his retirement at the end of the season, and he has been an incredibly valuable asset to Surrey in his three seasons at the club. This, his final Oval appearance will likely be an emotional one, but he and his team will be hoping it is a successful one too. Given that he averages 55 in the Specsavers County Championship at the ground with five centuries – the most recent last week – that should not be too much of a problem.
Steven Davies will be playing red-ball cricket at The Oval for the visiting side for the first time since a solitary appearance for Worcestershire four years before joining Surrey. His move to the West Country has not been as prosperous as he might have liked, though he does come into this match on the back of a second first-class century of the season. The first, incidentally, was against Surrey in August’s return fixture.
Both sides have named unchanged squads from last week’s round of matches.
Surrey squad: Gareth Batty (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Rory Burns, Rikki Clarke, Sam Curran, Jade Dernbach, Stuart Meaker, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope, Kumar Sangakkara, Mark Stoneman, Freddie van den Bergh, Amar Virdi
Somerset squad: Tom Abell (c), Steven Davies (wk), George Bartlett, Dom Bess, Eddie Byrom, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Peter Trego, Marcus Trescothick, Roelof van der Merwe, Paul van Meekeren
Weather and conditions
Dry throughout the week with highs of 18 degrees across days two to four. The Oval’s wicket has produced little in the way of results this season but with the potential of four spinners playing between the two teams, there may be plenty of turn on offer to make this a compelling contest.
Date: 19th-22nd September 2017
Ground: The KIA Oval
Odds (SkyBet): Surrey 8/11, Somerset 11/10