There are always opponents in sport who competitors want to beat most. Usually, they prove to be historic rivalries or local derbies, but Surrey versus Glamorgan is not that.
The fixture does, however, have a curious statistic behind it: in seven T20 matches at The Oval, Glamorgan have won six and saw the other rained off.
Ollie Pope, speaking after Surrey’s defeat to Middlesex on Tuesday, said the record isn’t something they look at. “If we’re playing our best cricket, you look at the quality we’ve got in our side, I don’t think anyone can beat us,” he added.
A problem for Surrey, then, that they are not currently doing that. Middlesex pulled off a comfortable victory at The Oval and, before that, Cameron Delport demolished them at Chelmsford. Surrey do not have form, historical or recent, coming into this game.
Glamorgan are not blessed with form either, losing to Somerset in their opening game and being left 96-8 when rain intervened at Cheltenham. They were fortunate to take a point back to Cardiff.
“We have had that lucky break against Gloucestershire,” Glamorgan coach Matt Maynard said. “We have got a point so we will take that.”
The Vitality Blast moves at a rapid pace, and finding wins early is essential to qualifying for the knockout stages. In their hour of need for two points, there is no place Glamorgan would rather be playing than The Oval.
“Frustrating, but some positives to take” is how Pope described Tuesday’s defeat. One of those positives is Tom Curran’s performance, bouncing back after a dismal opening night in the Blast, where he conceded 63 in three overs at Essex. Against Middlesex, he took two for 29 and removed Stevie Eskinazi to halt some momentum. England selected Curran for the World Cup — albeit he went unused — because he is rarely fazed and for his ability to cope under pressure. A return to form for him is a huge boost for Surrey.
At 38, just a decade after his debut, Michael Hogan is still going strong. Leading Glamorgan’s attack alongside Marchant de Lange, he is a real wicket-taking threat. 2018 represented the only of his six English seasons where his T20 bowling average jumped above 25 — and having said in 2015 he would love to play “maybe five or six” more years if his body held up, he will be keen to find some form. He went wicketless for 40 against Somerset, but did bowl more dot balls than any of his teammates.
Ben Foakes misses out due to a side strain which caused him to miss the Middlesex game, replaced in the squad by Freddie van den Bergh. Ollie Pope, as he did on Tuesday, will keep wicket. Morne Morkel continues to be rested.
Surrey squad: Jade Dernbach (c), Ollie Pope (wk), Gareth Batty, Scott Borthwick, Jordan Clark, Rikki Clarke, Tom Curran, Aaron Finch, Will Jacks, Ryan Patel, Liam Plunkett, Mark Stoneman, Imran Tahir, Freddie van den Bergh
Fakhar Zaman is set to make his Glamorgan debut after overcoming visa issues, although his involvement is subject to medical clearance. Otherwise, Matt Maynard names an unchanged squad from the Cheltenham trip.
Glamorgan squad: Colin Ingram (c), Chris Cooke (wk), Lukas Carey, Kiran Carlson, Marchant de Lange, Dan Douthwaite, Michael Hogan, Jeremy Lawlor, David Lloyd, Owen Morgan, Billy Root, Andrew Salter, Graham Wagg, Fakhar Zaman
Weather and Conditions
It will be another evening of extreme heat at The Oval with temperatures reaching highs of 37 Celsius, and barely dropping come the evening start time. A green-looking pitch played beautifully for batsmen on Tuesday.
Date: 25th July 2019
Ground: The KIA Oval
Odds (SkyBet): Surrey 1/2, Glamorgan 13/8