Specsavers County Championship Match Preview for Surrey at the Oval Old rivalries will once again be renewed on the field this Sunday, when the Middlesex CCC squad make the shortest of trips south of the river to lock horns with their London rivals Surrey at the Kia Oval, in what promises to be four days of enthralling and eagerly fought Specsavers County Championship Division One action.
With the London derby not featuring in the fixture calendar since Surrey’s relegation to the second tier of the first-class structure back in 2013, London’s cricket lovers have been deprived of a local clash in recent years, so this resumption of hostilities between the capital’s two sides has been eagerly awaited by both sets of fans and players alike.
Middlesex will head into the game on the back of another drawn County Championship affair this week at Lord’s, the fourth consecutive one of this year’s campaign, as prolonged rain wreaked havoc for more than two days at the Home of Cricket. Only 158.2 overs play were possible over the first two days, and days three and four were complete wash-outs.
Whilst the wet weather was the only winner this week at Lord’s, Middlesex’s can again take heart that whilst they were denied the opportunity to secure a positive result at the Home of Cricket, there were plenty of positives to take from the performance there against Nottinghamshire.
Toby Roland-Jones looked back to his best, when bowling with control and pace on day one to pick up three Notts wickets, before backing this up with two more the following morning to bag his first five wicket haul of the season.
Sam Robson continued the majestic form that he has shown in spades already this term, hitting a magnificent unbeaten hundred to go with the double hundred and hundred he scored at Lord’s in Middlesex’s previous encounter against Warwickshire. Again he was more than ably supported by the in-form John Simpson, who hit the third half century of what is already looking like being another impressive season for Middlesex’s long-standing wicket-keeper batsman.
Surrey’s own form to date has been patchy, and whilst like Middlesex they still search for their first victory of their 2016 campaign, they have themselves finished on the losing side in two of their four Championship matches played to date, suffering defeats at the hands of both Nottinghamshire and Hampshire, sides who Middlesex have in contrast already shared the spoils with this season.
Despite an indifferent start from Surrey, there have been moments of individual brilliance to give them hope of better fortunes, not least of all from Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara, who with one century, four fifties, and 531 runs in the Championship to his name already this term, looks to be in the kind of form we all know he is capable of.
Overseas signing Ravi Rampaul has to date looked the pick of the Surrey bowling attack, and with eighteen wickets already this term at an average of just 22, the Trinidadian will pose a constant threat to the Middlesex batsmen.
One player hoping that history will repeat itself is Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner, who back in 2013, when Middlesex last visited the Oval in the Championship, picked up a fifteen wicket haul in the game, to record figures of 155 for 118, the seventh best figures in the history of the club and the best ever by a Middlesex bowler at the Oval.
With the weather forecasters suggesting brighter skies over London across the four days ahead, Middlesex will be hoping to be able to secure their first win of the season at the Oval.
Middlesex are pleased to announce the following 13-man squad to play against Surrey in our Specsavers County Championship match starting tomorrow, Sunday 15 May at the Kia Oval:
Adam Voges (c), James Franklin, James Fuller, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Dawid Malan, Tim Murtagh, Ravi Patel, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, Toby Roland-Jones, John Simpson, Paul Stirling.