Roll on the summer
Ian Ward replies to your Tweets on Chris Gayle, England's batting prospects and pitch preparation.
Last Updated: 03/05/12 3:55pm
Surrey begin the defence of their Clydesdale Bank 40 title on Friday May 4 when they entertain Somerset at The Kia Oval in a repeat of the 2011 final.
The match is the first of 35 live CB40 group matches on Sky Sports, where you'll also be able to watch both semi-finals as well as the showpiece final from Lord's in September.
It's all part of our bumper domestic 2012 schedule.
We want you to hear your views on the county game throughout the summer - both here on skysports.com and @Sky_Cricket
In the build-up to Friday's opener, Sky Sports pundit Ian Ward answers some of your Tweets...
Who do you think are the top 3 up and coming young batsmen in the country? Figs1105
WARDY REPLIES: At 28, I'm not sure you can call Nick Compton young, but he is rightly getting a lot of headlines given the runs he has scored. Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan didn't set the world alight at the age of 21 or 22 - they came to Test cricket a little later in life (making their Test debuts aged 24 and 25 respectively), so why can't Nick? People mature as cricketers the longer they play and have a better understanding of their game at different stages of their career. Nick's had a great start to the season in what everyone accepts are very difficult conditions for batsmen. I'm also hearing great things about Yorkshire's Joe Root.
I haven't seen too many of his innings myself but when people like Graham Thorpe and Rob Key say to me 'this guy can bat', then he's got something about him. He's had busy winter with the England Performance Programme and the Lions, so he's another one to look out for. I'm very excited about the prospects of another 'Yorkie', Jonny Bairstow. He's a fantastic striker of the ball and a terrific athlete, plus he's been working hard on his 'keeping. I went to Canterbury and did an interview with him which you can see during our coverage of the CB40 clash between Yorkshire and Kent on Sunday. I was really impressed with the way he spoke - on and off camera. He seems like a bloke who knows what he's about. He's humble about what he's achieved so far and is determined to keep pushing and performing. He's in the runs at the moment and if that continues he's going to be putting even more pressure on England's batsmen.
Do you agree taking away the heavy roller once a county game has started has made for more exciting cricket?WeLiveCricket
WARDY REPLIES: Speaking to current players, they say that the lack of a heavy roller has made for some very interesting cricket but the problem is that you are reliant on the weather playing ball and, as we know, that doesn't always happen. You wouldn't ask a young, up-and-coming golfer to putt on hollow tine, bobbly greens so why are we asking our young batsmen who are hopefully going to develop and play international cricket to deal with irregular bounce? Seam moment is one thing - it's only fair that the bowlers get something back - but I don't see how the ball going up-and-down is conducive to good cricket for anybody. If you can't flatten out the dents that batting must be a bit of a lottery. When someone who has played as long as Mark Ramprakash has says batting conditions are the hardest he's ever faced, then it's time to take notice.
HIT AND CHRIS
Do you think Chris Gayle will be playing for the West Indies or Somerset this season? NickChallis
WARDY REPLIES: Hi Nick - today we heard the news that Gayle will not be honouring his T20 contract with Somerset because he wants to play international cricket once his IPL duties are fulfilled. That's massive news for the Windies - and should give England's one-day bowlers pause for thought too! They are making good strides forward in other areas but they desperately need an international batsman with experience at the top of the order and that man is Gayle. With Ramnaresh Sarwan out of the frame for now, the only other rock in the top-order is Shivnarine Chanderpaul - but he can't do everything on his own and needs some help. Gayle will be worth his weight in gold in the dressing room alone - he's been there, seen it, done it, got the t-shirt. I know that from my time at Surrey where I watched the likes of Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart prepare. You didn't necessarily happen to do it their way, but you can certainly pick up a few tips and run a few ideas past these guys. Experienced and up-and-coming players feed off each other in a dynamic dressing room; it's all about striking the right balance.
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