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Rayner relishing Surrey test

Surrey CCC

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Ollie Rayner spoke to ecb.co.uk as Middlesex Panthers prepare to start their FL t20 campaign

Off-spinner Ollie Rayner is desperate for Middlesex to get off to a flying start in the Friends Life t20 against enigmatic London rivals Surrey tonight.

The Panthers, winners in 2008, begin their campaign with a mouth-watering contest at Lord’s versus a Surrey side buoyed by last night’s unlikely victory over Essex.

Rayner is all too aware of the Lions' unpredictability and is relishing the opportunity to try and help Middlesex get under way in style.

“I’m very excited,” he told ecb.co.uk. “It’s a big game, not just in general but for the club, the fans and London itself; hopefully the weather holds out for it and we get a good crowd.

“Surrey always look strong, but, on any given day, you just do not know what you are going to get; they can be absolutely magnificent and tear teams apart or potentially be shambolic at times.

Ollie Rayner

Ollie Rayner is hoping to have reason to celebrate tonight as Middlesex get their Friends Life t20 campaign under way against London rivals Surrey

“They are definitely not to be underestimated and it should be a really good night.”

The Panthers’ hopes in the competition suffered a severe dent last month when Lasith Malinga pulled out of his agreed stint for the competition due to fatigue.

Rayner admits the news came as a blow, but insists Middlesex are still strong enough to make waves in the sprint format.

“It would have been a massive signing had he come,” he admitted. “It would have been a great boost for us.

“But there has not been a lot of chat among the boys about it, which is a good sign - it shows we are confident with what we have got.

“There is nothing we can do about it now and we’ve got to get on with it. I think we have got a very good, aggressive squad which is ideal for t20.”

As well as not having Malinga’s mastery to call upon, Middlesex will also be without England pair Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan, who were called up for the NatWest Series against West Indies.

The loss of the latter is particularly disappointing given the left-hander struck an astounding 54-ball 116 against Lancashire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 on Sunday.

Yet Rayner is not worried about their absences and believes victory this evening could help Middlesex get on a roll.

“It is all about getting on a bit of a run in this competition,” he added. “With the championship, you’ve got a bit of time, whereas you do not in t20.

“Fingers crossed we can get off to a good start and who knows where we can end up?”

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