Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Hampshire v Surrey

Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Hampshire v Surrey

Who is going to stop Surrey?

After a tricky start in their game against Worcestershire last week, Surrey’s eventual margin of victory was a comfortable one and despite the unfortunate news that Jamie Overton has suffered a recurrence of the stress fracture in his back that kept him out for the early part of 2023, all seems rosy at the Oval. Hampshire will also come into this game feeling happier about themselves after their five wicket win at Trent Bridge. They have had a tricky start to the season, but are now back in the group of counties chasing the top three. However they are 50 points behind Surrey and it appears that Somerset and Essex are the only two that have any serious chance of mounting a challenge.

Due to the strange scheduling, it is only four weeks since these two sides met at the Oval and on that occasion Hampshire were dealt a heavy defeat, by an innings and 11 runs, none of the Hampshire batters managing to reach 50. Daniel Worrall was the main destroyer for Surrey, taking eight wickets in the game. He has made a dramatic start to the season with 26 wickets at 13.57, including a 10 wicket haul in the last match and has declared his interest in playing for England when he becomes eligible next year. He has received more than adequate support from Kemar Roach, who has 18 wickets at 25.77 and this will be the West Indian’s last game. Leg spinner, Cameron Steel had a fast start to the season capturing 20 wickets in the first three rounds, but has just one since then and did not play in the last game. With the arrival of Sean Abbott, Surrey have plenty of seam options, but 74% of the wickets to fall in Southampton this season have been to spin.

The two openers, Rory Burns and Dom Sibley lead the run scoring with 410 at 51.25 and 404 at 57.71 respectively and Surrey bat deep, with runs being scored right down the order.

For Hampshire it is Liam Dawson who leads the bowling stats with 20 wickets at 30.90. The concern has been the aging seam attack and lack of support for Mohammad Abbas, but Kyle Abbott took six wickets in the Nottinghamshire game and Keith Barker was back, although it was with the bat that he was most productive, scoring a vital 74. The batting has been hit and miss and Nick Gubbins leads the stats with 324 runs at 43.37, although he missed that last match with his wife giving birth. He will presumably return this week. The opening positions have been problematic in recent years and Ali Orr has been recruited to join Fletcha Middleton. Orr has scored one century alongside eight scores under 30, while Middleton has much the same numbers reflecting the inconsistency throughout the batting.

Surrey will start strong favourites and it is difficult to see any other result, if the weather does not intervene.

Key players:

James Vince has made a slow start to the season with 224 runs at 30.50, with just one half century in nine innings. The Hampshire batting needs to start producing more runs and their captain will be keen to take the lead. His focus has shifted to shorter formats in recent years, but with over 1000 first class runs last summer and 12598 runs from 208 first class games at 39.36, runs will undoubtedly start coming.

Dom Sibley is the antithesis of Bazball and it remains to be seen whether his more cautious approach will ever come back into favour. However we know that four full days of cricket is plenty of time to get a result and most counties would be only too pleased to have a “proper” opener in their ranks. The only downside is the need to score 450 runs inside 110 overs for maximum batting bonus points; a tough ask. However Surrey have plenty of batters who can pick up the scoring down the order.

Team News:

Jamie Overton is out while this will be Roach’s last game, with Sean Abbott having come into the squad. Tom Lawes has not played for the last month because of a heel injury.

Surrey squad (probable): Rory Burns (c), Sean Abbott,  Gus Atkinson, Jordan Clark, Matt Dunn, Ben Foakes (wk), Dan Lawrence, Conor McKerr, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope, Kemar Roach, Dom Sibley, Jamie Smith, Cam Steel, Dan Worrall

Tom Prest was injured in the field in the last game and was unable to bat. Michael Neser was included last week but did not play.

Hampshire squad (probable): James Vince (c), Mohammad Abbas, Kyle Abbott, Keith Barker, Ben Brown (wk), Liam Dawson, James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, Fletcha Middleton, Michael Neser, Felix Organ, Ali Orr, John Turner, Brad Wheal

Weather and Conditions

The forecast is for sun over the first two days, but with showers moving in during days to two and three.

Given the success of spin in Southampton the captain winning the toss has opted to bat first in each of the three matches.

Date: 24th May 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: The Rose Bowl, Southampton

Odds (Skybet): Hampshire 6/4; Surrey 8/15


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