Last year, both Middlesex and Hampshire had ten draws to their name at the end of the season. The former won Division One and the latter would have been relegated but for Durham’s financial issues.
Surrey are just one draw from such a feat and the drop to Division Two is a much greater possibility than making up the minimum of 53 points required to pip Essex to the crown – a gap that is only likely to widen – and this year with no other county’s woes to reprieve whoever finishes seventh.
It is not so much the quantity of draws that will concern the South London unit but the fact that they have only a solitary win under their belts. That was in the opening week of the season.
Their record of one defeat serves not as a consolation but as a stark reminder that there is a smaller margin between themselves and Warwickshire, rooted to the bottom of the division, than one might immediately assume.
Fifth-placed Yorkshire, a spot below Surrey, trail this week’s opponents by ten points with Somerset just 13 behind them.
It has been five straight matches since their last Specsavers County Championship win, dating back to early June, and, having competed for the title until the final day last season, are now staring down the barrel of a relegation dogfight.
Having selflessly prioritised Ollie Pope’s maiden first-class hundred at Hampshire last week before shaking hands, Ben Foakes remains without a century for Surrey this season.
He does have ten half-centuries, four of which came in red-ball cricket. There is plenty of talk that he may secure the backup wicketkeeper spot for this winter’s Ashes, and with Jos Buttler – the other man in contention – not playing any more Championship cricket this season, Foakes has the opportunity to prove his case to the selectors.
Ben Coad burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season with four five-wicket hauls in the first seven Championship innings of the year. Since then, he hasn’t hit the heights of those opening weeks – much like his county as a whole – and although he is yet to go wicketless this season, he will want to make his mark on Surrey with a flurry of scalps.
Mark Stoneman returns to the squad following England duty but Jason Roy and Tom Curran will be unavailable because of it, ahead of Saturday’s T20I against West Indies.
Sam Curran is likely to return in a straight swap with his older brother having been rested for last week’s draw at Hampshire, while Kumar Sangakkara is also back after missing seven weeks due to commitments in the Caribbean Premier League. Sangakkara and Stoneman’s return means the out-of-form Scott Borthwick is excluded.
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
Yorkshire will be without Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and David Willey, all of whom will be with England. Shaun Marsh is set to make his second and final Championship appearance of the season before returning to Perth, while Adam Lyth may not feature due to the arrival of his first child expected this week.
Yorkshire squad: Gary Ballance (c), Andrew Hodd (wk), Tim Bresnan, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Ben Coad, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Shaun Marsh, Steven Patterson, Azeem Rafiq, Jack Shutt, Ryan Sidebottom
Weather and Conditions
Patches of rain could affect the evening sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, but it’s set to remain mostly dry and mild, with temperatures around 17 degrees. The Oval’s typically flat pitch probably won’t suit Yorkshire’s desire for victory.
Date: 12th-15th September 2017
Ground: The Kia Oval
Odds (SkyBet): Surrey 10/11, Yorkshire 10/11