Will Surrey's firepower ease their troubles in the Blast?

T20 BLAST PREVIEW: With their County Championship title defence failing miserably can Aaron Finch's return inspire an about-turn in their fortunes?

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Coach: Michael Di Venuto

Captain: Jade Dernbach

Overseas: Aaron Finch (Australia) and Imran Tahir (South Africa)

Last season: 5th in South Division

How did they do last year? 

Surrey narrowly missed out on a place in the last eight in 2018, finishing just one win outside of the play-offs. They depended much on the brilliance of Aaron Finch, who smashed two centuries at a strike-rate of 182.35. However, he missed five games for them; ultimately hampering their progress.

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Jade Dernbach will skipper the side in 2019

Who are their key players?

Aaron Finch: Arguably their best player. Finch has been at Surrey since the 2016 campaign, after having previously played for Yorkshire. With six centuries, 53 half-centuries and almost 8,000 runs in T20 cricket, the Australian white-ball captain is one of the most destructive players in the global game. If he can feature in the majority of their games, they have a great chance of progressing. 

Imran Tahir: The 40-year-old leggie is one of the most feared bowlers in T20 cricket as he has taken more than 300 wickets in the format. The IPL stalwart also has a lot of Blast experience, having played for Hampshire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Durham and Derbyshire. And, having taken 11 wickets in the World Cup, he’s in great nick. 

Tom Curran: In Liam Plunkett, Sam Curran and Jade Dernbach, Surrey have some fine English T20 players. However, Tom Curran is their lead seamer. The England man, who did not feature in their World Cup campaign, is a wizard with the white-ball. Cutters into the pitch, slower balls out of the back of the hand, quick in-swingers – Curran is a master of his craft. Also, having played in the Ashes, BBL and IPL, he has plenty of big-game experience. 

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What are their biggest strengths?

Surrey are strong throughout. They have power up top with Roy and Finch, a world-class ‘keeper in Ben Foakes, the finely-tuned skills of Tom Curran, Plunkett and Dernbach, the youthfulness of Jamie Smith, Will Jacks and Sam Curran, and the priceless leg-spin of Tahir. 

It’s also important to note that they have strength in depth. Waiting to come in is Ollie Pope (shoulder injury permitting), Gareth Batty, Morne Morkel, Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns.

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Imran Tahir applied his trade with Durham during last season's competition

Where might they have a weakness? 

A little-known tournament called The Ashes will be Surrey’s biggest concern. Finch, Roy, Foakes, Burns, Stoneman and the Curran brothers are all possible selections which, more than likely, will cause havoc with their first-choice XI. In any team sport, having a settled unit is always crucial to success – something Di Venuto will be conscious of.

Chances of reaching Finals Day?

Surrey are arguably the best team in the tournament, but due to their impending selection dilemma, they will struggle to progress to the last eight.

Strongest XI (with T20 Player Index rantings): Aaron Finch (16), Jason Roy (49), Will Jacks (788), Ben Foakes (252), Sam Curran (152), Tom Curran (69), Rikki Clarke (154), Freddie van den Bergh (1197), Liam Plunkett (104), Jade Dernbach (327), Imran Tahir (9)

Fixtures: Jul 19 – Essex (a), Jul 23 – Middlesex (h), Jul 25 – Glamorgan (h), Jul 26 – Sussex (a), Jul 30 – Kent (h), Aug 2 – Somerset (a), Aug 8 – Middlesex (a), Aug 9 – Gloucestershire (a), Aug 11 – Glamorgan (a), Aug 15 – Sussex (h), Aug 16 – Hampshire (a), Aug 23 – Kent (a), 27 Aug – Somerset (a), 29 Aug – Essex (h)

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