Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Surrey v Hampshire

Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Surrey v Hampshire

Surrey host Hampshire looking to maintain their challenge on leaders Essex

Surrey overcame the stubborn resistance of Kent last week to register their first win of the season. They came close against Somerset and as things stand, it looks like being a duel with Essex again for top spot. Hampshire have been the team to get closest to their dominance in the last two seasons, but that mantle may have been taken by Warwickshire and Durham.

Dan Lawrence has fitted straight in at Surrey following his move from Essex, taking wickets as well as scoring runs, although he did not bowl against Kent. Fellow spinner Cameron Steel has been the stand out performer with the ball, leading the Championship wickets statistics with 20, having taken just six last season. The leg spinner is also averaging 86 with the bat! All the batters have scored runs, Dom Sibley leading the way with two centuries so far. With all the wickets that Steel and Lawrence have taken, the pace attack has been relatively quiet, but they have the plenty of options, with Sean Abbott set to arrive for the next match on 10th May.

Hampshire have finished third the last two years and also back in 2019 pre-COVID, but there are concerns among their supporters that the run may be coming to an end as the years begin to tell on the pace attack. Keith Barker is now 37, Kyle Abbott 36 and Mohammad Abbas and James Fuller 34, with Barker not having played so far this season because of injury. Liam Dawson is currently their leading wicket taker with 11 and Abbas next with four. They had the misfortune of their first game being washed out and since then the batting has held things together, led by Nick Gubbins who has posted a century and two fifties in three innings. 21-year-old Tom Prest scored runs against Lancashire and Fletcha Middleton scored his maiden first class century in the last game against Warwickshire. However if they are to start challenging for a top three spot, there will need to be more support for Abbas on the bowling front.

These two sides met at the start and the end of the 2023 season. At the Oval in round two Surrey won by nine wickets, thanks to six wickets a-piece from Dan Worrall and Tom Lawes. Then in the final game Surrey were bowled out cheaply in their second innings chasing 185, Dawson taking nine wickets in the match and Hampshire winning by 52 runs. This time around Surrey will start as favourites, although the weather may defeat them.

Key players:

Dan Lawrence’s move was a blow to the Chelmsford faithful, but certainly does not seem to have upset Lawrence. He opened the bowling in the second innings against Somerset in round two, taking 3/76 and then came out and scored an unbeaten 53 off just 34 balls as Surrey chased an improbable victory. He then posted a century in the last game. Lawrence has scored 551 runs in his 11 Tests, at an average of 29, but his last Test was in the ill-fated West Indies series at the beginning of 2022, during which he scored 197 runs at 32.83. He was then replaced by Ollie Pope for the New Zealand Tests that summer. He has been active on the T20 circuit, but was called into the Test squad for India earlier this year when Harry Brook pulled out, although he did not play. One of the reasons for the move to Surrey was to be able to bowl more and be seen as more of an all rounder and that certainly seems to be happening.

It is difficult to think when Liam Dawson has been more productive on the cricket pitch than he is at present. Last season he took 49 wickets at 20 and scored 840 runs at 40. He has already taken nine wickets this year and scored 109 runs at 54.5. Many find it hard to understand how he was passed over by England for the tour to India, although he was kept busy in various T20 competitions. The last of his three Tests was back in 2017, but it is not out of the question he will play another given the consistency of his performances.

Team News:

Jamie Overton missed the last match with a back injury.

Surrey squad (probable): Rory Burns (c), Josh Blake, Jordan Clark, Matt Dunn, Ben Foakes (wk), Ben Geddes, Tom Lawes, Dan Lawrence, Conor McKerr, Jamie Overton, Ryan Patel, Kemar Roach, Dom Sibley, Jamie Smith, Cam Steel, Dan Worrall

Brad Wheal played for Glamorgan in the last round, but should return. John Turner and Keith Barker have been injured.

Hampshire squad (probable): James Vince (c), Mohammad Abbas, Kyle Abbott, Ben Brown (wk), Liam Dawson, James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, Ian Holland, Fletcha Middleton, Ali Orr, Tom Prest, Brad Wheal

Weather and Conditions

The best days are forecast as being the first and last, with showers on days two and three.

The Oval is always a good batting surface and it would not be a surprise to see the captain winning the toss wanting to bat first.

Date: 26th April 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: The Oval, London


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