Rory Burns’ Surrey side will walk onto the Kia Oval outfield as LV= County Championship Division One leaders for the second week running and their aim will to be still there once the match with Northants has ended.
Surrey go into the game having drawn two and won two of their opening four matches, and racked up scores of 400+ in three of those four matches. There have been runs all the way down the order, including a stunning century from number 9 from Jordan Clark against Gloucestershire last week, so confidence will be sky high.
Ben Foakes has recovered from a stiff back and comes in for last week’s double centurion Jamie Smith, who hurt a hamstring while compiling his career best at Bristol.
For Northants, who were promoted in 2019, staying in the division is their initial target, having suffered immediate relegation three times previously after they had been promoted.
Ricardo Vasconcelos, the club’s new red-ball captain after Adam Rossington left for Essex, is a prolific run-getter and Ben Sanderson (287 first-class wickets at 20.89) is one of the best and most underrated county seamers around.
This season they kicked off with a thrilling encounter with fellow promoted side Gloucestershire, ending up 272/8 chasing 299, with runs for Rob Keogh, Saif Zaib and the evergreen Gareth Berg, and nine wickets for Ben Sanderson.
They found it tougher against Yorkshire but a great final day rearguard action, led by Kiwi opener Will Young, saw them come away with another draw and it was the same result in their third game of the campaign. They did give pre-season favourites Essex an almighty scare though, racking up 390, powered by a hundred from Luke Procter and more runs from Young, then bowling out Essex for just 193 after having them 83/8. Northants were unable to bowl them out a second time, leaving them with three draws and sitting in a comfortable sixth place in the table.
Bowling Coach Chris Liddle has been pleased with what he’s seen from his side so far. “We want to be a team that is tough to beat and that makes it all the way until the end. It shows in the three games that we’ve played that they have all gone down to the last session in the last hour of the fourth day.
“We want to keep playing cricket like that, keep pushing teams and then hopefully we come out with a win. If not, then be tough to beat and come out with a draw, that’s how we want to go about our cricket.”
Ricardo Vasconcelos (c)
Lewis McManus (wk)
Last season: 4th in Division Two
Coach: John Sadler
Captain: Ricardo Vasconcelos
Overseas: Will Young, Matt Kelly (April-May)
In: Lewis McManus (Hampshire, loan)
Out: Adam Rossington (Essex), Richard Levi (released)
P W L D Ab
Home 59 24 9 26 1
Away 62 28 13 21 0
Total 121 52 22 47 1
Last Three Matches v Northamptonshire:
May (18), 19-21, 2015 at Northampton: Northamptonshire 309 (SD Peters 82, RI Newton 95, AM Rossington 58, TK Curran 4‑89, ZS Ansari 3-50) drew with Surrey 499-6 dec (KC Sangakkara 111, JJ Roy 140, GC Wilson 74*)
September (22), 23-25, 2015: Surrey 410 (KC Sangakkara 101, SM Curran 61*, MA Chambers 3-44, GG White 3-81) & 125-5 (JJ Roy 77) drew with Northamptonshire 110 (TK Curran 7-35, SM Curran 3-46) & 514 (BM Duckett 120, AG Wakely 93, AM Rossington 116, D Murphy 135*, TK Curran 3-141, MP Dunn 4-104)
September 5-8, 2021 at County Ground, Northampton: Surrey 252 (JL Smith 123, WG Jacks 60, BW Sanderson 4-32, TAI Taylor 5-41) & 238 (Jacks 50, SC Kerrigan 4-36) lost to Northamptonshire 171 (R Clarke 3-34) & 322-8 (EN Gay 50, RI Keogh 99, LA Procter 57, J Clark 5-76) by 2 wickets