Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ford names first Championship Squad

Where have the last 6 months gone? It’s that time of the year again where we prepare ourselves for the highs and lows of a county cricket season, as the first squad for the opening game against Glamorgan has been named.

There are no real shocks in the 12 that have been chosen to lead our charge for promotion to Division One after relegation last term, with the non-inclusion of Gareth Batty the main talking point. For the man who was captain for a large part of last season he will be hugely disappointed, but now that Zafar Ansari is available from the start of the season, having two spinners at this time of the year would be a poor decision.

Here is the full squad and my predicted starting X1:

Graeme Smith (C)
Rory Burns
Dominic Sibley
Steve Davies (WK)
Gary Wilson
Jason Roy
Zafar Ansari
Stuart Meaker
Tom Curran
Tim Linley
Chris Tremlett

Matthew Dunn

That isn’t the team I would choose, as I would select Dunn ahead of Tremlett, just for the fact that Dunn seems hungrier than Trem and he really needs to show what he is made of this season. Tremlett had a poor season in 2013 and it looks like he can only go downhill from now on, but it does seem likely that he will get the nod tomorrow.

It looks as if Tom Curran will make a Championship debut after making his First Class debut against Cambridge, and that is great to see. He is a great prospect and while the Easter break is in full flight, we should take advantage of his availability before he has to return to school. Known as a bowling all-rounder, he is yet to showcase any ability with the bat in the few games he has played, so it’s likely he will bat down at 9 in a rather long looking tail.

That will put a lot of pressure on the top 7 to get the bulk of the runs, but they have all shown reasonable form in pre-season. Smith comes in at the top, meaning Sibley will drop down to 3 which is no big headache to be honest, and hopefully he can continue from his last Championship performance from which he scored that memorable double hundred. Solanki continues to not be available with private family issues, which means an injury or two early on would create some problems for new coach Graham Ford.

Jade Dernbach misses out after being made to rest by the ECB after the ICC World T20, and even though I don’t think he would have been selected even if he was available, he will be a key player for us this year, as he needs to prove his many doubters wrong.

Overall it looks positive heading into the opening game tomorrow as Surrey embark on a new era under Ford. Question marks do remain in some areas though, with Smith’s form for South Africa earlier this year worrying to say the least, and as already mentioned Tremlett’s lack of pace and hunger currently. But I believe that this season will be far better than last’s (well, it couldn’t get much worse!) and if the youngsters are given a decent chance to showcase their ability, we will be in a fine place come the end of the campaign.