Surrey ready to shed bridesmaids tag with Lord's final win
Youthful Rapids may have been dismissed too easily
Whenever a question was posed of them in white-ball cricket last season, Nottinghamshire invariably had the answer.
The Outlaws deservedly claimed both one-day trophies on offer in 2017 and go off as favourites to successfully defend their One-Day Cup title when the competition begins on Thursday.
However, there are plenty of pretenders to Nottinghamshire's crown and no side has won back-to-back titles in the tournament's various guises since 2009.
Beaten finalists in each of the last three years, Surrey have more reason than most to crave success in a Lord’s final.
Director of Cricket Alec Stewart has compiled a crack outfit over the past few years in a bid to claim a first major trophy since their Pro40 win seven seasons ago and this year is no different with the addition of former South Africa ace Morne Morkel and the headline act of Virat Kohli for June.
Indian skipper Kohli will be available for the last three of Surrey’s group games but could also feature in any potential quarter- or semi-final should they qualify from the South Group.
At the top of the order Jason Roy will be available after he finishes his IPL commitments with Delhi but it is not just their household names who give them a great chance of Lord’s redemption.
An exciting core of young players have starred for the county in the opening weeks of the County Championship.
Left-armer Sam Curran is fast becoming a complete all-rounder, middle-order batsman Ollie Pope has two Championship centuries to his name, while 19-year-old off-spinner Amar Virdi is already being tipped as an England tourist later this year after just seven first-class games.
Throw in dependable captain Rory Burns, excellent wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes, and seasoned white-ball performer Rikki Clarke and Surrey have an exceptionally balanced one-day unit who should be confident of going deep in the competition again.
Getting to the final has clearly not been a problem in recent seasons and it looks about time the perennial Lord’s bridesmaids had their big day.
The usual suspects of Notts, Essex, Yorkshire and Somerset are likely to be competing for honours but they are priced up accordingly.
However, one county who look to have been dismissed far too easily are Worcestershire.
The Rapids topped the North Group last season, winning six of their seven completed games, before being outclassed by Surrey in the semi-finals.
Joe Leach’s men have struggled in the opening weeks of the Championship, losing four of their five outings, but with one of the youngest squads on the county scene it could be argued that one-day cricket will bring the best out of the Rapids again.
Joe Clarke is a tremendous prospect with the bat and the availability of Moeen Ali after his exclusion from England’s squad for the first Test against Pakistan is a bonus. He could form a potent partnership with Aussie international Travis Head at the top of the order.
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