Glamorgan travel to the Kia Oval to begin their NatWest T20 Blast campaign against Surrey tomorrow (Thursday).
And after a mixed 2015 season in white-ball cricket and a difficult start to their Specsavers County Championship campaign this year, Robert Croft will be hoping the tournament provides a welcome change for the Welsh county. T20 cricket tends to invigorate everyone – from the players to the fans – and a jam-packed Oval crowd awaits for Croft’s troops.
The good news is that batsman Colin Ingram is fit and firing for the match. The South African has made his name as a hard-hitting one-day batsman and though he struggled for consistency in last season’s T20 Blast, he can provide an explosive start to Glamorgan’s innings. He has missed the opening to Glamorgan’s season with a knee injury, but will slot in at Number 3 when he returns.
Surrey’s side is packed full of quality, though overseas signing Dwayne Bravo is missing through IPL duty. Kumar Sangakkara, Azhar Mahmood and Jason Roy bring world class experience in the T20 format, while the batting prowess of Steven Davies and Ben Foakes should not be underestimated. Both are aggressive players with an eye for the boundary.
The Oval pitch is invariably hard and dry, benefitting the batsman – just like the boundaries, which are made shorter for T20.
Glamorgan will not yet have Dale Steyn in their ranks, but Michael Hogan and Graham Wagg boast nous and guile, while the spin twins – Andrew Salter and Dean Cosker – have always thrived in T20 cricket.
The wildcard option in Jacques Rudolph’s bowling armoury is Dutchman Timm van der Gugten, another player with experience of playing T20 at the highest level, having appeared for Netherlands at the World T20 in India earlier this year. He has started the season in fine fashion too, grabbing a first County Championship five-for against Essex this week.
Craig Meschede performed admirably at the top of Glamorgan’s batting order last season and may reprise his role as the Welsh county’s ‘pinch hitter’. The power play overs are vital if you want quick runs you need to clear the infield. Along with opening partner Rudolph and Ingram, and Chris Cooke at Number 4, with the likes of Graham Wagg and David Lloyd to come, Glamorgan believe they possess the assets to wreak havoc.
So many top teams ply their trade in the South Group and Surrey are no exception. And on a bustling Thursday night in South London in front of 20,000 plus at The Oval, the hosts will have a boisterous crowd on their side.
But what better place for Glamorgan to get their T20 Blast campaign underway? High-octane, blockbuster, boundary-hitting cricket is back on the menu for 2016.
Surrey have announced a 13-man squad for the match, which is as follows:
Gareth Batty (capt.), Zafar Ansari, James Burke, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Ben Foakes, Azhar Mahmood, Stuart Meaker, Matthew Pillans, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Dominic Sibley, Gary Wilson.