Tuesday, 1 October, CXIs v Mar, in space
I don’t know what you’ve made of the preceding verbiage, but the real fantasy cricket begins (and ends) here. That’s Mar as in Mars in the title, and the C represents County, as in the composite county XIs to play Mars, home and away, I guess, with the players picked on the basis of the performances I’ve seen. You’d imagine the Martian track to be as slow and surly as the one that has helped to condemn Surrey to division two. So the first-class team to play in the warm-for-October weather we had then – probably a bit chillier on Mars, mind, like UAE minus the camels – assumes a turning pitch.
The strategy, in true sub-continental fashion, is to field first, bat once, and spin them out in the third innings. Onions wasn’t playing in the Durham game at the Oval so he’s ineligible; Rushworth didn’t do enough. Sidebottom came close, but Barker, playing at Guildford, offers a more all-round game, and runs on the board are crucial. Alfonso Thomas might have been chosen, but Surrey homeboy Tim Linley has to be in there to bowl the hard yards. Patel and Rayner are the main spinners, with Borthwick in the Jadeja role, if more expensively. Buckley deserves a mention. Amla pips Ponting as the overseas player. Punter may or may not like the joke of being 12th man. Collingwood is there because – as he proved so well – captaincy matters. And he could offer a few overs. Davies picks himself.
Collingwood DUR (capt)
Davies SUR (wkt)
12th man/player coach: Ponting SUR
Only three sides to pick from for the limited-overs team, but three handy one-day sides all the same. This XI (everyone, bar Davies, can bowl) would play any T20 fixture, too. Wood gets the nod over Napier, by virtue of Hampshire bias and his left-handedness. Pace-off-the-ball would be a regular tactic.
Davies SUR (wkt)
Ten Doeschate ESS
Mascarenhas HAM (capt)
12th man/player coach: Solanki SUR
Postscript: Surrey will be sorry enough after this season, but I can’t resist marks out of 10. Not to rub it in, rather to rank what I saw. Taking all formats into account, here goes: 10 Sibley 9 Ponting, Amla 8 Davies 7 Solanki 6 Burns, Ansari, Dernbach, Linley 5 Meaker, O’Brien 4 Batty, Smith, Tremlett, Harinath, Wilson, Roy 3 Keedy, Lewis 2 De Bruyn, Curran 1 Jewell
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