If you are a fan of the Royal London One-Day Cup, then you best make the most of this year’s competition, as it may well be the last of its kind.
From 2020, the tournament will become somewhat of an afterthought, played alongside ‘The Hundred’, with many first-team players missing from their county sides. For so long a highlight of the cricketing summer, the final will be moved away Lords, another sign of its lesser importance in the eyes of the ECB.
With all this in mind, there may be extra motivation for the 18 counties to reach the Home of Cricket this summer.
That quest begins today, as six matches get this year’s One-Day Cup underway.
One of those fixtures will see Gloucestershire take on Surrey in a repeat of the 2015 final – a thrilling match, which saw Gloucestershire lift the trophy after a six-run victory.
It was the first of three successive finals for Surrey, all of which they lost. A record they will want to put right in 2019.
And they look to have a good chance of doing so.
Ollie Pope, Will Jacks and Ben Foakes will all be part of what is a powerful batting line-up, while the likes of Tom Curran, Morne Morkel and new signing Liam Plunkett form an exciting crop of bowlers. Therefore, it is no surprise they are many people’s favourites to win the South Group.
Gloucestershire are less fancied, and if their results in this competition since their victory in 2015 are anything to go by, it will be another early exit.
However, they do possess a number of excellent white-ballcricketers in Benny Howell, Jack Taylor and Ryan Higgins and could be a surprise package if they can perform to their potential.
There was some concern about his availability heading into the season, so having Dan Worrall available is a major boost to Gloucestershire’s chances of success. The Australian left his spell with Richard Dawson’s side early in 2018, due to injury, and he endured further problems over the winter. His return adds real quality to the Gloucestershire bowling attack, especially as David Payne is unavailable with a bruised heel. He will need to be at his best against this star-studded Surrey batting outfit.
Will Jacks burst onto the scene in 2018 by making a century against Gloucestershire in this very tournament. His 121 came off just 100 balls and helped his team chase down a target of 283 in under 46 overs. Jacks has started this season with a bang, scoring back-to-back half-centuries in Surrey’s County Championship opener against Essex. The 20-year-old will want to continue his good run of form with another important contribution in Bristol.
Dan Worrall is set for his first Gloucestershire appearance of the season. However, fellow seamers David Payne and Stuart Whittingham miss out through injury. A squad of 12 has been named, with either Graeme van Buuren or Chris Liddle likely to miss out in the final XI.
Gloucestershire Squad: Christ Dent (c), Ian Cockbain, George Hankins, Ryan Higgins, Benny Howell, Chris Liddle, Gareth Roderick (wk), Tom Smith, Jack Taylor, Matt Taylor, Graeme van Buuren, Dan Worrall.
Surrey have named a strong squad for their trip to Bristol, despite injuries ruling out Scott Borthwick, Jordan Clark, Jade Dernbach, Matt Dunn and Amar Virdi. Sam Curran remains on IPL duty with Dean Elgar set to join up with the County Champions next week.
Surrey Squad: Rory Burns (c), Gareth Batty, Rikki Clarke, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes (wk), Will Jacks, Conor McKerr, Morne Morkel, Liam Plunkett, Ollie Pope, Jason Roy, Jamie Smith, Mark Stoneman, Freddie van den Bergh.
Weather and conditions
With temperatures set to reach 17, it will be a relatively warm day in Bristol and, despite some cloud cover set for the morning, it should be a good day for cricket.
Date: 17th April 2019
Ground: The Bristol County Ground
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 6/5, Surrey 8/1