THERE’S going to be a distinctly Caribbean flavour to Surrey’s Vitality Blast campaign this year.

They launch their 14-match programme on Friday by entertaining Glamorgan at the Kia Oval, Gloucestershire following four days later (May 31) and Hampshire on June 2, a triple package of home dates which offer the ideal platform to reach the quarter-finals.

Surrey’s line-up will include two of the leading West Indies players in all-rounder Kieron Pollard and spinner Sunil Narine, as they join new T20 captain Chris Jordan, who played his early cricket in Barbados.

Pollard – arriving in time for the Gloucestershire match after completing Indian Premier League duties – has played more than 100 T20 internationals and helped West Indies to win two T20 World Cups. That is augmented by five IPL titles with Mumbai Indians and his vast hitting power will join a line-up expected to England opener Jason Roy following a two-month break from the game.

“The Kia Oval is a special place to play, especially in front of a full house,” said Pollard, the 35-year-old adding: “Surrey’s side is full of talent and should certainly be mounting a challenge for the title. I hope that my experience will add a vital ingredient this year.”

Director of cricket Alec Stewart commented: “We’re very pleased to bring Kieron to the club. He brings an incredible range of skills as well as experience at the very highest level of the sport. His all-round ability will make a significant difference to the depth of the squad.”

Last year Surrey made an excellent start with three successive wins before international calls and injuries bit deeply, missing out on a last eight place on net run-rate. They won the inaugural competition in 2003 but three appearances in the final since then – the most recent in 2020 – have brought defeats.

With Pollard, Narine and Jordan – who returns from Sussex, eight years after departing for the south coast – Surrey should have an altogether more formidable line-up.

Jordan, 33, has played eight Tests, 34 one-day internationals and 75 T20 internationals since his departure to the south coast but has been training hard since his return from an IPL stint last week and reckons “It’s great being back. I can’t wait to get going”.

He is likely to be without the services of fellow England international Tom Curran, who suffered a stress fracture of the back during the winter with the comeback date still uncertain.

Surrey enter the first stage of the Blast enjoying a three-point advantage at the top of LV County Championship, just ahead of Hampshire, with Yorkshire 15 points behind.

A week off from the four-day programme gave them the opportunity to rest several key players while taking on Sri Lanka’s Development XI in at Guildford. Ben Geddes took advantage in making 104 on his second first-class appearance, Ryan Patel’s love affair with the Woodbridge Road ground having continued in hammering 126. Gus Atkinson impressed with the bat again by making 91. The tourists were grateful to skipper Nipun Dananjaya’s 150no for driving them to 372-9dec, repairing the innings after a highly impressive debut spell by young seamer Tom Lawes (3-34). Off-spinner Amar Virdi’s 3-67 was a handy reminder of his talents.

Vitality Blast T20 fixtures (all home matches at the Kia Oval): Fri May 27: Glamorgan; Tues 31: Gloucestershire; Thurs June 2: Hampshire; Fri 3: Kent (Canterbury); Sun 5: Glamorgan (Cardiff); Wed 8: Sussex; Thur 9: Middlesex (Lord’s); Fri 17: Middlesex; Sun 19: Hampshire (Ageas Bowl); Tues 21: Somerset; Thurs 23: Sussex (Hove); Fri 24: Essex (Chelmsford); Fri July 1: Kent; Sun 3: Somerset (Taunton).

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