Surrey travel to Bristol to take on Gloucestershire today as the Division One leaders in the LV= County Championship.
With a decent forecast, the game between the table-topping Surrey and second-to-bottom might Gloucestershire seem weighted in favour of the visitors, with the home side competing in the top division for the first time in 18 years, but nothing will be taken for granted.
No side with Mohammad Amir leading the attack can be underestimated and the Pakistani superstar – deputising for the thrilling Pakistani teenager Naseem Shah who is out for a month with a shoulder injury – appears to have arrived to make his debut just in time, with the south west club having taken just 18 points from their first three fixtures. To date they have managed a tense draw, involving fellow 2019 promoted side Northants, and two losses, against the northern powerhouses of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
It has been Gloucestershire’s bowling that has let them down thus far. With the bat Aussie opener Marcus Harris has excelled and wicketkeeper James Bracey has two hundreds to his name already. Meanwhile, Ryan Higgins has continued his all-round excellence, his county cricket stats being exceptional, averaging north of 30 with the bat and sub-21 with the ball.
With the ball, Pakistani slow left-armer Zafar Gohar has 10 scalps to date but the side as a whole has only taken 38 wickets from a possible 60, so they will be looking to Amir to add real firepower.
For Surrey, stability is the key after a strong opening to their campaign. They have won the last two games while overcoming the adversity of losing a key bowler in each match – Kemar Roach and James Taylor – but are able to include two recently arrived bowlers in Australian-with-a-British-passport Dan Worrall (who turned out for Gloucestershire in 2018 and 2021) and New Zealander Colin de Grandhomme (here for three matches) in what looks a fit and firing squad, with Ollie Pope and Ryan Patel averaging over 50 and Ben Foakes a faintly ludicrous 144. Ludicrous perhaps, but it will be no consolation to Gloucestershire to know that in first-class games against them, Foakes has batted 8 times in 8 matches and averages above 100!
With the ball, Surrey have been hunting as a pack, with Clark, Overton and Topley all having taken 9 or more wickets at under 24. The side will be travelling to Bristol with real confidence, having added Amar Virdi to the squad.
Head coach: Dale Benkenstein
Captain: Graeme van Buuren
Overseas: Marcus Harris, Naseem Shah, Zafar Gohar
In: Ajeet Dale (Hampshire), Paul van Meekeren (Durham)
Out: George Hankins, Harry Hankins (both released)
James Bracey (wk)
Graeme van Buuren (c)
Follow the match
The match will be broadcast live on kiaoval.com and the Club’s official YouTube channel with commentary from BBC London’s Mark Church. This commentary will also be available on the BBC Sport website.
Clips from the match will be featured across Surrey CCC social networks and highlights will be available at the end of each day’s play. There will also be a full match report posted on the Club website on every evening of play.
P W L D Ab
Home 109 59 20 30
Away 110 37 35 38 1
Total 219 96 55 68 1
Last three matches
August 21-22 (23-24), 2015 at County Ground, Bristol: Gloucestershire 233 (GH Roderick 71, TK Curran 6-61) drew with Surrey 349-6 (BT Foakes 140*).
April 8-11, 2021 at County Ground, Bristol: Surrey 220 (HM Amla 56, DA Payne 3-49, RF Higgins 3-35, J Shaw 4-48) & 333 (RJ Burns 74, BT Foakes 133, J Clark 52, Higgins 3-62, MD Taylor 4-94) lost to Gloucestershire 326 (JR Bracey 54, CDJ Dent 78, TC Lace 65, RJW Topley 5-66, AAP Atkinson 3-78) & 229-2 (Dent 91*, GL van Buuren 110*) by 8 wickets.
May 27-30, 2021 at the Kia Oval: Surrey 473 (RS Patel 62, HM Amla 173, J Overton 50, R Clarke 65, DA Payne 3-79, RF Higgins 4-69) beat Gloucestershire 158 (MAH Hammond 77, GS Virdi 3-46, DT Moriarty 6-60) & 268 (JA Tattersall 86*, Virdi 4-96) by an innings & 47 runs.
Surrey players’ approaching milestones:
First-class: HM Amla 18,907 runs; RJ Burns 10,904 runs; J Clark 144 wkts, 4 5wI; SM Curran 2,845 runs; C de Grandhomme 197 wkts; J Overton 196 wkts, ct 47
For Surrey: HM Amla 1,805 runs, 4 100s; RJ Burns 8,980 runs; SM Curran 1,806 runs; C de Grandhomme debut; BT Foakes ct 198 as kpr; DJ Worrall debut