Gareth Batty has been named in a 13 man squad to take on the reigning champions Hampshire Royals in the opening FLT20 game of the summer tomorrow at the Ageas Bowl.
After missing for over 3 weeks due to a side strain, it is great to have Batty back in the squad and he will take over the captaincy from Vikram Solanki.
Here is the squad in full:
Gareth Batty (C)
Zander de Bruyn
It’s obviously not just his captaincy that we have missed over the last few weeks, with his bowling proving vital at times, and he had a successful Twenty 20 campaign last season which led him to being named in England’s provisional squad for the World T20 in Sri Lanka. Alongside Batty’s off spin is Ansari’s slow left arm and Maxwell’s off breaks, so it looks like we will field 3 spinners in most of the games this campaign, but Gary Keedy is left out of the party probably due to the fact he isn’t particularly quick in the field and is not the best with the bat shall we say.
When it comes to the seam bowlers, there are 5 named in the squad, including Matthew Dunn. It’s great to see Dunn named in a first team squad for two consecutive games but I don’t think he will make the final X1. It’s a massive blow that both Dernbach and Meaker are unavailable for the start of the competition due to different reasons, as it means that we will most likely field Jon Lewis as well as Tremlett which, along with Azhar Mahmood, means that there are 3 fielders who are less fleet-footed in the field than the younger players.
When it comes to the batsmen, it looks like the most explosive line up we have had in years. I presume the top 6 will be something like this: Roy, Davies, Ponting, Solanki, Azhar, Maxwell, all of whom can score at a rapid tempo and clear the ropes at regular intervals. That is something we have missed over the last few seasons of T20. We usually have a top 4 who can smash the ball out of the park, but it now looks like we have 6 who can do that role, and with 2 of Wilson, de Bruyn and Ansari at number 7 and 8, it is a very long batting line up. I personally would play Wilson ahead of de Bruyn as he had a superb time in the T20 last year and I don’t think Zander’s medium pace is required after his showing at Guildford against Lancashire.
A special mention for Jason Roy who had a difficult time of it in the Championship when he played, but since the Guildford festival he has worked hard and found some form. In his last 9 innings for Surrey second X1 and Reigate Priory he has scored: 127*, 124, 48, 13, 90, 6, 32, 78, 79. Some may say that the standard is nothing like first team professional cricket, but at least he has scored the runs. He could have easily gone back to the second X1 and Reigate and not put in 100% and not got many runs, but he didn’t do that, he put the effort in and hopefully he can have a good T20 campaign.
So, it all starts tomorrow against a strong looking Hampshire side. It’s important to get off to a good start and with 3 away games this week we must register a win as soon as possible, because as we have seen over the 7 years since we have qualified for the quarter finals, once you get off to a poor start, it’s very hard to produce that winning formula.