Friday, 29 June 2012

RHB returns for Southampton trip

Rory Hamilton-Brown has returned to the Surrey side, as Chris Adams has named a 14 man squad for the FLT20 game against the Hampshire Royals at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow.

However, Gareth Batty will continue to captain the side, and will so for the remainder of the competition. RHB missed the narrow defeat to Essex a week ago, as he was on compassionate leave after the tragic passing of Tom Maynard. Its fully understandable that RHB doesn’t feel up to captaincy for the next couple of weeks, and I’m sure Gareth will do a very good job.

In-form Gary Wilson also returns to the squad after missing the Essex game, and with 2 50’s and an average of 140.00 in the competition, he is now a vital part of our batting line up. Even though he has been in poor form, including 2 low scores for the Second X1 this week, Zander de Bruyn has once again been named in the squad, but with Rory Burns scoring yet another century in the same game, he surely must be selected in the final X1.

Steve Davies makes up the triplet of ‘keepers in the squad, and will obviously wear the gloves, but will be looking to make a bigger impact with the bat at the top of the order. Jason Roy also hasn’t been in the form that we know he can produce, so he will be looking to find that in the games ahead, and Matt Spriegel’s all round abilities is now vital to the make-up of the side.

Zafar Ansari has once again been named in the squad, and with Batty, Spriegel and Kartik, we have a host of spin options in the squad, and you would think that they will all play, as the Rose Bowl has been known in the last couple of years as a pitch that suits the slower bowlers.

If that occurs, then one of Tremlett, Meaker or Nannes will be left out of the starting X1, presuming Chris Jordan won’t be picked, and you would think that it would be the Australian to miss out, as he has been nowhere near as good as he was last season, and you would have expected a better final over from him at Chelmsford last week.

This game starts a run of 6 inside 8 days, including 4 back at the Kia Oval, so we will be looking to get back to winning ways as soon as possible to be in with a chance of qualification out of the Southern Group for the first time in 6 years. We currently sit second bottom in the table with 4 points from a possible 8, but all the other teams would have played at least 2 more than us by the time we start tomorrow.

Hampshire will be no pushovers however, and after getting off to a slow start in the competition, they have won 2 out of 2, and will be looking to make it 3 as they face Essex tonight (Friday). Even though Shahid Afridi isn’t available for the hosts, they have the likes of Ervine, Briggs and Simon Katich in their ranks, and will provide a tough test for our boys over the next couple of games.

It will once again be a tough game for our boys, and especially for RHB, but they have to try and focus on the game and put in a good performance live on Sky. Good luck Lads.

Full Surrey Squad:
Gareth Batty (C)
Steve Davies (WK)
Rory Hamilton-Brown
Jason Roy
Rory Burns
Zander de Bruyn
Matt Spriegel
Gary Wilson
Zafar Ansari
Chris Jordan
Stuart Meaker
Murali Kartik
Chris Tremlett
Dirk Nannes

Full Hampshire Squad:
Dimi Mascarenhas (C)
Jimmy Adams
Simon Katich
Sean Ervine
Neil McKenzie
James Vince
Glenn Maxwell
Liam Dawson
Michael Bates (WK)
Kabir Ali
Chris Wood
Danny Briggs
Hamza Riazuddin

Friday, 22 June 2012

Déjà Vu at Chelmsford

Essex have beaten Surrey by 3 wickets in the FLT20 game at Chelmsford, after scoring 15 off the final over to win the game.

Gareth Batty won the toss, and as we have done in the first 3 games, we batted first. Stuart Meaker hot-footed it from Headingley to Chelmsford to be involved in the game, with Lewis, Jordan and Lancefield the 3 missing out, meaning Rory Burns had been given a T20 debut, and Chris Tremlett was making his first appearance of the season.

Davies and Roy opened up, and got their side off the best start so far in the competition, with Roy launching the first maximum of the night into the Hayes Close. But a couple of wickets then fell in the 5th over, with Davies caught on the edge of the circle for 21, before the experimental pinch hitter Murali Kartik was run out first ball.

Roy was looking good, hitting another large maximum in the next over, but he was the next man out, when he was caught on the boundary for 36 to give Reece Topley his 2nd wicket. Debutant Burns and de Bruyn had a rebuilding job to do, knowing that the top order had got their side off to a good start, with 60 coming from the powerplay. But after a couple of good shots, Burns was stumped for 15, as the Essex attack started to apply pressure.

de Bruyn and Spriegel struggled to find the boundary rope, and were seemingly dealing in singles only. The South African did manage to find the boundary in the 14th over, as Surrey passed 100, but 2 balls later he was bowled for 18. Taking pace off of the ball seemed to be the way to go, with Phillips and Smith bowling well in tandem and restricting the visitors.

Spriegel and Ansari took Surrey to 137-6 at the start of the penultimate over of the innings, but a flurry of wickets, with Ansari, Spriegel, Meaker and Batty all falling, meant that we could only manage to get to a total of 144-9 from our 20 overs. A good effort from our guys on a difficult night, with an impeccably observed minute silence for Tom Maynard taking place just before the start.

As he has done throughout the competition, Murali Kartik opened the bowling and claimed his first wicket of the tournament, when he had Pettini brilliantly caught by Burns on the edge of the circle first ball. And after a couple of good overs for the hosts, it was the turn of the other overseas bowler, Dirk Nannes, to get in on the act, as he had Smith caught by Meaker.

Big boy Tremlett was then introduced into the attack and made an immediate impact, when he had ten Doeschate well caught by the temporary skipper at backward point off his first ball in first team cricket since January. Essex had managed just 39-3 off the powerplay, compared to 60-2 in our innings.

However, New Zealander Franklin was joined by his skipper Foster, and they started to up the rate, with Foster taking 11 off Ansari’s first over, and then Franklin got in on the act, launching the normally economical Batty for 2 sixes in an over, an over which went for a total of 20. The run rate required was a comfortable 7 an over, but Meaker was introduced into the attack, and bowled Foster in his 1st over, to reduce the hosts to 93-4 in the 13th.

Essex required 50 off the final 7 overs of the innings, and Tremlett was then brought back into the attack by Batty, who once again made a big impact straight away, bowling Adam Wheater and following that up by having the dangerous Napier caught off a leading edge next ball. The big man had claimed 3-10 off his first two overs.

Franklin was still there though, and whenever he was at the crease, Essex were still favourites. The rate steadily climbed to up and above 10 an over, and then Tremlett bowled a tight 18th over, to finish with figures of 3-19 off his 4 overs, and make it 26 required from the final 2 overs.

Meaker then had Comber caught at short extra cover off the first ball of the penultimate over, to make it 26 needed off 11. But Franklin was still there, and he launched his 3rd six of the innings 3 balls later, and Essex required 15 off the final over.

Phillips launched the first ball of the last over bowled by Nannes for 6, which made it 9 needed off 5. A 2 and a couple of byes made it 5 needed off the final 2 balls of the game, and Phillips then hit a four down to third man, and dually finished the game off on the final ball.

So, once again, we have lost at Chelmsford in dramatic style, mirroring the game from 2 years ago. A spirited performance from our guys, ending what has been a terrible week.  Fortress Chelmsford is just that it seems, as we still haven’t won a game there in the T20. And with 15 required off the last over, you would have thought Dirk would have performed better than he did, but he has looked very rusty so far this year, and will perhaps be dropped for the next game.

We now have over a week until our next game, against the Hampshire Royals at the Ageas Bowl next Saturday. Even though we lost tonight, it was a spirited performance, and one that Tom would have been proud of.

Squad named for difficult night

Chris Adams has named a 13 man squad for the FLT20 game against Essex at Chelmsford tonight, for what will be the toughest game our players would have played in. 

Just 5 days after the tragic death of Tom Maynard, we have to somehow get back out on the pitch and get into the routine of playing cricket again. It will be difficult for all concerned tonight, as not only have they lost a teammate, they have lost a close friend. Every player talks about how close-knit our dressing room is, and losing someone like this so tragically, must be simply awful.

Rory Hamilton-Brown was one of Maynard’s closest friends, as they both went to Millfield School, so it is completely understandable that he has been excused from playing tonight. It will be the first game since re-joining us in 2010 that he has missed, and Gareth Batty will take-over the reigns for one night only.

Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker are both with the England squad, and Gary Wilson is with Ireland, so there are a few enforced changes in the squad from the Kent game. Jon Lewis has come in to bolster the bowling, but it will be surprising if he plays, as Tremlett has been itching to play for weeks, and Nannes will most likely be picked ahead of the fellow 36 year old.

There is a chance for a couple of youngsters to impress, as Rory Burns and Tom Lancefield have both been named in the squad. Burns in particular has had a fantastic year in the second X1, so it will be a great opportunity for the pair of them. Lancefield missed all of last season due to a knee injury, so will be looking to rediscover some of the form he showed in the T20 a couple of years ago. If it was up to me, I would open with either Burns or Lancefield with Steve Davies, and leave Roy for further in the innings. However, I think that Adams will stick with the more experienced Roy at the top, and leave the others for later.

Zander de Bruyn will presumably come back into the starting X1 after being dropped for the Kent game, and Spriegel and Ansari make up the all-round spin options at around 5 and 6 in the order. Chris Jordan has once again been named in the squad, but I feel that he will be the other player to join Jon Lewis on the sidelines for this one, as his bowling can be erratic at times.

Essex have been in similar form to us in the competition so far, winning 2 and losing one, but that loss was against us in the opening game of the competition, so our players will take confidence from that into this one. However, in the 9 years of T20, we have never won a game at Chelmsford, and with the firepower of Franklin and Napier in their line up, it will be a tough task.

But the result isn’t the most important thing tonight, as the last week has shown us, there are far more important things in life than cricket. The guys are being unbelievably brave tonight, playing so soon after Tom’s passing, and the only thing I can say to them is good luck guys, go out there and give it your best, it will be tough but produce a performance which would have made Tom proud. RIP Tom.

Surrey Squad-
G. Batty (C)
S. Davies (WK)
J. Roy
R. Burns
Z. de Bruyn
M. Spriegel
Z. Ansari
T. Lancefield
C. Jordan
M. Kartik
J. Lewis
C. Tremlett
D. Nannes

Essex Squad-
J. Foster (C, WK)
J. Franklin
M. Pettini
T. Westley
G. Smith
R. ten Doeschate
G. Napier
T. Phillips
A. Wheater
M. Comber
D. Masters
T. Mills
M. Chambers
R. Topley

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Batty spins Surrey to victory on record breaking night

Surrey have beaten the Middlesex Panthers by 28 runs via the D/L method, as 5 personal and partnership records are broken or equalled.

As he did yesterday against Essex, Rory Hamilton-Brown won the toss and elected to bat first. There was just one change in the starting X1, which was Meaker had come in for Jade Dernbach. Even though Maynard and Tremlett were named in the squad, they both missed out on selection.

Davies took a couple of boundaries off the second over from Crook to get the innings going, but Crook fought back with the last ball, bowling the Surrey skipper all ends up. And on the very next ball, Davies was caught behind off Roland-Jones’ first delivery, and Surrey were once again in trouble at 14-2 in the 3rd.

And it didn’t get any better, as after a couple of tight overs, de Bruyn was trapped in front in Gareth Berg’s first over, and we were in disarray at 32-4 when Roy was caught and bowled by former Surrey loanee Tom Smith. We were in danger of capitulating, but Gary Wilson and Matthew Spriegel had other ideas, as the pair set apart a record partnership.

They had to rebuild the innings before they accelerated, and they did it perfectly, still ticking the score over at a reasonable rate. They brought up the first 50 partnership for Surrey in the competition this year, and were compiling a competitive total. Wilson hit the first maximum of the campaign also and took their side over 100 in the 16th over.

Spriegel started to accelerate also, putting Roland-Jones into the top tier of the grandstand twice overall in his innings. They brought up the 100 partnership in the 17th over, going past our previous best of 95 for the 5th wicket between Symonds and Walters in 2010.

They both registered unbeaten half centuries, Spriegel 53 and Wilson 54, which represented both of their previous best in this form of the game. We finished on 149-4 off the 20 overs, and the partnership was simply superb between the pair, equalling the record 5th wicket partnership in all English Domestic T20 of 117, which is jointly held by van Jaarsveld and Walker for Kent 6 years ago.

We got off to a perfect start in the Middlesex innings, when off Meaker’s first ball of the competition, Denly struck the ball straight down the throat of Spriegel at deep midwicket. But that wicket didn’t deter the Middlesex pair of Malan and Stirling, who found the boundary at regular intervals, including taking 3 off one Nannes over, and the Irishman launched Spriegel for the first maximum of the innings.

But the man who is so good at breaking a partnership, Gareth Batty, was brought into the attack and had Malan trapped in front in his first over. And Batty was at it again in his next over, when he bowled the dangerman Stirling for a 23 ball 36, and then bowled Gareth Berg first ball. He had taken 3-3 off his 1.2 overs, and even though he couldn’t complete a hat trick, he had pulled Surrey right back into the game.

And that man Batty was at it again in his 3rd over, when Rogers mishit the ball down the ground and was caught by Meaker. A 4th wicket for Batty. And Ansari was in on the act in the next over, when he caught Dexter on the crease, and trapped him LBW. Middlesex had fallen from 64-1 to 81-6, in the space of 5 and a half overs.

The skipper brought himself into the attack, and made an immediate impact, having Simpson caught in the deep by Roy with his first ball. And the same pair worked in tandem once again 3 balls later, when Crook was caught first ball brilliantly by Roy at short extra cover.

That was the last wicket to fall in the game, as the rain came with Middlesex on 99-8, and the hosts were behind Duckworth Lewis by over 30 runs, so the game was ours.

We had won by 31 runs via D/L and even though our top order once again didn’t fire, we have managed to pull another win out of the bag. At 32-4, it looked dismal, and we were looking at less than 100, but the partnership between Spriegel and Wilson was outstanding, showing that you don’t have to go gung-ho straight away in Twenty 20, and you have plenty of time to play yourself in.

The bowlers were once again fantastic, but at 64-1 it didn’t look good, so Batty was called upon and he didn’t disappoint. Picking up career best figures of 4-13, to go along with best T20 scores for Wilson and Spriegel, who broke one partnership record and equalled another. Even though our batsman aren’t firing, we are still picking up victories, and when they do fire, it will be something special.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bowlers lead Surrey to opening T20 win

Surrey have beaten the Essex Eagles by 17 runs in the opening game of the FLT20, thanks to a superb bowling performance.

On a gorgeous evening in South London, Rory Hamilton-Brown won the toss and elected to bat without hesitation. The first surprise of the night was the omission of Mark Ramprakash from the starting X1, which meant the batting would look weak with an out of form Spriegel at 5. Meaker was the other from the 13 to be left out, which as expected, left Dernbach and Nannes as the main seamers, and Batty, Ansari, Spriegs and Kartik backing them up.

Davies and RHB started well, with the keeper taking 3 consecutive boundaries in the second over off the normally economical David Masters. However, Davies went for 19 in the 3rd over, when he was beaten in the air by Tim Phillips and was stumped. That provoked a mini collapse, with Graham Napier having the skipper caught and bowled off a leading edge and the very next ball Zander de Bruyn was bowled by a superb Yorker. We had slipped to 31-3 in the 4th, and the start we were all dreading was confirmed.

Jason Roy and Matt Spriegel had a rebuilding job to do, and a boundary from Roy brought up the Surrey 50 in the 8th over. But Spriegel was bowled on the last ball of the over by Ryan ten Doeschate, with a ball that nipped back a long way, and Surrey were 56-4 after 8. Roy was joined by Gary Wilson, and took 2 boundaries off Tymal Mills’ first over, to keep the scoring rate up at around 7 an over.

However, Roy went soon after, when he was caught off Franklin at long off for 22, and Surrey were in danger of capitulating. But Wilson and was joined by Ansari, and the pair batted sensibly but still ticking the score along, and took us over 100. Ansari was caught behind for 13 off Phillips, but Wilson was still going, finding the boundary 3 times overall on a pitch which didn’t look easy to bat on.

Batty came and went for 3, before Wilson fell for 33 on the penultimate ball of the innings, with Surrey registering a below par score of 128-9. Not the greatest start from our batsman, and even though it was a tough pitch, we were still about 20 runs short of a competitive total.

Pettini and England-bound Bopara opened the innings for the Eagles, and they looked at ease at the crease, with Nannes looking rusty on his return to the side. The first wicket fell in the last over of the powerplay, when Dernbach had Pettini caught behind. Greg Smith didn’t last long at the crease as he was run out by Dernbach, and some great work from Davies, and Essex had fallen to 54-2 in the 7th.

But while Bopara was still there, the task looked relatively comfortable for the visitors, and with fellow England batsman Shah with him, it looked even easier. But Gareth Batty made the breakthrough when he trapped Shah LBW for 9. Essex requiring a further 62 off 11 overs.

In his next over, Batty got the danger man Bopara, as he attempted a reverse sweep, and the safe hands of Spriegel held onto the catch at backward square. Spriegel was back in the action a couple of overs later, when he had ten Doeschate caught by Jason Roy in the deep, and Essex were 81-5 in the 13th.

Zafar Ansari then had his first wicket in the next over, when he trapped the Essex skipper Foster LBW, and the Eagles were 6 down. And the man who hit a record 16 sixes against us at Whitgift School last year, Graham Napier, was involved in an almighty mix up with James Franklin, and was run out by Jason Roy.

Gareth Batty came back into the attack, and had his 3rd wicket when Franklin was caught off a leading edge by the skipper, and Essex were 88-8 in the 16th over. But Essex weren’t giving up, as Tim Phillips slog swept Spriegel for the first maximum of the game. Essex required a further 28 off the final 3 overs of the game.

After taking just 4 off Kartik’s final over, Dernbach was brought back into the attack, and after deceiving Masters with a slower one, he followed it up by yorking the Essex seamer with a quick one. They managed to take the game to the final over, but 22 was too stiff a target off the experienced Dirk Nannes, and Surrey had won by 17 runs.

Well, how did we win that? The batsman failed but the bowlers have once again pulled the game back fantastically. Our score was without doubt below par, even though it was a difficult pitch, but as said on the commentary it was a serviceable total, keeping us within a chance of victory. Huge credit must go to Gary Wilson, who recognised the state of the game and the pitch, and played it perfectly in his 33. Without him, we would have been nowhere.

Nannes looked a little rusty, but everyone else excelled with the ball. Dernbach showed just how good he is at the end of the innings, and will be a huge miss as he now joins the England squad, and Kartik showed all his experience in going for just 17, even though he didn’t claim a wicket. However, the stand out bowler without doubt was Gareth Batty, who picked up 3 wickets including the prize scalp of Bopara.

We now head to Lord’s tomorrow night for the London Derby, where our batting has surely got to improve and it will be helped if Maynard is fit, looking to make it 2 out of 2. Come on the Rey!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Maynard out of FLT20 opener

A shoulder injury has forced Tom Maynard out of the opening FLT20 game of 2012 against Essex tomorrow night, as Chris Adams has named a 13 man squad for the visit of the Eagles.

This will be the first game that the Welshman has missed since his move to South London from Wales in the 2010/11 close season, and it will leave a big whole in our middle order. He has been an integral part of our batting line up in all forms of the game, but T20 is his forte, and the medical staff our working as hard as they can to get him fit for the London Derby at Lord’s on Thursday.

A shock inclusion in the 13 man squad is that of 42 year old Mark Ramprakash, who hasn’t played a limited overs game for Surrey since 2010. This is most likely due to the injury to Tom Maynard, as the batting would look weak otherwise, meaning that Ramps will probably play. Even though he found some form in the second innings against Sussex, I’m not sure if this is the right move or not, with the likes of Burns or Lancefield still waiting for their chance.

RHB, Davies and Roy are the 3 major power hitters in the side, and the 3 most likely to score a match winning innings. However, having them at 1,2,3 in the order may not be the way to go, because as we saw in some games last year, if we lose early wickets, the batsman down the order struggle to clear the ropes when needed. Davies would obviously open, and as he did for the backend of the competition last year, Jason Roy may be his partner, with the skipper floating around 4 or 5 in the order.

Zander de Bruyn has been included, and will no doubt play, even though he has been in poor form this season, and Matt Spriegel will also want to impress in this form of the game to stake a claim for a spot in the LVCC side. Zafar Ansari will play and in my opinion will be an important part of this side. He will bat presumably at 7, and as he showed last year, and in the CB40 game against Durham this year, he has the ability to score quickly and hit big if required. Gary Wilson has also been included, and if he plays he will add vast T20 experience to the line up, and will float up and down the order depending on the situation.

As it did last year, the bowling line up looks very strong, but with the added inclusion of Murali Kartik, and another year’s experience for the likes of Dernbach, Meaker and Ansari, it looks even stronger. Jon Lewis has been left out of the squad, but will be in contention later in the competition when Dernbach is playing for England.

We still bolster the leading wicket taker in T20 cricket, Dirk Nannes with 178, who is fresh of the IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore, but how he didn’t get a game for them this year is beyond me. However, even if he is a little rusty for the first couple of games, he is fit and raring to go and add to the 20 wickets he took in the competition last season.

Chris Tremlett hasn’t been named in the squad, despite playing for the 2’s in the last couple of weeks. I presume that it won’t be long until we see him back in a Surrey shirt, and with Jade going, that may be his chance to come in.

So, Chris Adams and RHB have decisions on who to leave out, with Gary Wilson possibly being preferred to Gareth Batty due to his batting capabilities, and the fact that there could be up to 8 bowling options even without Batty. However, I do feel that our side is weakened without Batty, as his passion and experience is so valuable in our team. Meaker may be the other play to be left out, with Dernbach and Nannes as the main 2 seamers, and Spriegel, Ansari, Kartik, de Bruyn and RHB backing them up.

Is this the year that we can finally qualify from the group and make the quarter finals, and maybe even finals day? After winning the inaugural competition back in 2003, and reaching finals day the following 2 years, we haven’t qualified out of our group since 2006, even though we have had plenty of chances to do so, notably last year. It’s going to be difficult, as there are some strong teams in the Southern Division this year, with the likes of Shahid Afridi and Scott Styris around and about, but if we can take our form from the CB40 into the T20, then we will most definitely be in with a chance.

The Essex squad looks equally as strong as ours, however, with the new signing of New Zealander James Franklin, and big hitters such as Graham Napier and Ryan ten Doeschate make the batting and bowling line up look impressive. Add to that the wirily David Masters and the extreme pace of Tymal Mills, they have a good outfit and will be tough to beat.

Surrey Squad
Rory Hamillton-Brown (C)
Steve Davies (WK)
Jason Roy
Mark Ramprakash
Zander de Bruyn
Matt Spriegel
Zafar Ansari
Gary Wilson
Gareth Batty
Murali Kartik
Stuart Meaker
Jade Dernbach
Dirk Nannes

Essex Squad
James Foster (C/WK)
James Franklin
Mark Pettini
Tom Westley
Greg Smith
Owais Shah
Ryan ten Doeschate
Adam Wheater
Graham Napier
Tim Phillips
David Masters
Tymal Mills
Maurice Chambers

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Surrey beaten but not without a fight

Sussex have beaten Surrey by 10 wickets in the LVCC Division One match at Horsham, after dismissing the visitors for 248, and knocking off the runs required, despite a dogged innings from the Surrey skipper.

Ramprakash and Meaker started the morning knowing that runs weren’t the most important thing today, and that they had to just try and bat as long as possible. The pair started well, and they managed to stave off the opening spell of Anyon and Magoffin. The cricket was very attritional and runs were hard to come by, but they were doing their job. However, after 50 minutes of play, Sussex got their first wicket of the day when Meaker looked to leave a ball from Magoffin and played on for 8.

De Bruyn joined Ramps and it was the elder of the two who started to up the run rate, finding the boundary with a more regular occurrence and started to finally find some form. Ramps was looking comfortable at the crease, and went past his previous best this season of 24.

However, just after he had started to look at ease at the crease, he attempted to sweep Monty and was trapped LBW for 37. A disappointing way to get out, but at least he has got some runs and spent some time in the middle, but just as he has found some form, there will now be a month until his next first team game.

Davies joined de Bruyn and started typically attackingly, overtaking the South African in half the balls faced. The pair took Surrey to lunch on 129-3, still trailing by 98 runs, but it wasn’t chanceless, as de Bruyn was dropped twice off Magoffin, including once in the last over before the break, and Surrey knew that they had a tough afternoon in front of them.

However, we weren’t up for the fight, as we lost 4 wickets in the session to all but hand the game to the hosts. de Bruyn’s poor form continued, as he was the first man to go after the break, LBW to Panesar for 21, and he was followed soon after by Davies for 35, Panesar’s 3rd victim.

Fresh after his minor car accident a couple of days ago, Maynard struggled at the crease, and when Chris Nash was brought into the attack, he trapped him LBW for 5. And to cap off a woeful session, Batty set off for a single, but was sent back by the skipper, and was run out for 2. The most terrible way to get out in this situation. We stumbled our way to tea at 183-7, still trailing by 44.

Straight after tea, Magoffin bowled Kartik as he looked for a drive through the off side for 11, and Sussex required just 2 wickets to win with a long time still left in the session. Lewis joined his skipper and he had to hold back from his usual aggressive manner. He did that, and with RHB they took Surrey to within 12 overs of a draw, but on 12 Lewis was caught behind off part-timer Nash. He wasn’t happy with the decision, and had words with both Peter Willey and a Sussex supporter on his way off.

Dernbach was the last man at the crease, and he and the skipper took us to within 8 overs of a draw, but Anyon managed to bowl Hamilton-Brown with a good delivery for 47. All out for 248, a lead of just 21, and Sussex had 6 overs to complete a much deserved victory. And they did it quite easily, without losing any wickets, and we had been beaten comprehensively by 10 wickets.

A very disappointing result, in a game that we really had to win, as Sussex are one of the teams near us towards the bottom of Division One. But once again, our first day performance has let us down, as it is nigh on impossible to come back in a game where you are bowled out for 124 in your first innings. However, we did have our chances, reducing Sussex to 87-6, before allowing them put on a further 250 odd for the last 4 wickets.

You can’t fault the bowlers in some aspects of the game, reducing a team to 87-6 is fantastic, but the inability to finish off an innings is something which has been around for years, and something that Adams needs to eradicate quickly. The batsman have to have a look at themselves over the next few weeks, especially de Bruyn who hasn’t been anywhere near the form he showed last season, and players such as Burns, Lancefield and Spriegel may be in with a chance if he has a bad T20 campaign.

We now have a month until our next game in the Championship, and looking at our position in the table, relegation is a real possibility. That would be the worst possible thing to happen to this group of players, so all we have to do is hope that we have a good T20 campaign over the next 4 weeks, and take some confidence into Guildford Festival as the Champions Lancashire make the visit.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Wells drives Surrey into the ground

Sussex have had a fantastic day on day 3 of the LVCC Division One match at Horsham, with Luke Wells scoring a sublime century to take his side to 351 all out in the first innings.

After the wonderful work of Meaker and Kartik in the 6 overs yesterday, the Surrey bowlers would have been looking to pick up early wickets on a blustery morning in Horsham. However, Wells and Arif had different ideas, as the pair batted sensibly and looked rather comfortable against the opening spells of Kartik and Meaker.

RHB changed the bowlers with Dernbach and Batty having a go, but both without success, as Sussex had reached parity, and started to build a lead which turned out to be big in the context of any game, let alone a low scoring one. Jon Lewis was brought on, and even though he didn’t claim a wicket, he began to make things happen, and his pressure finally lead to the first breakthrough of the morning. Kartik had Arif caught by Batty at slip on the last ball before lunch, but it certainly was the hosts’ session, as they went to the break 172-7, a lead of 48.

If Surrey thought that they would wrap up the innings quickly after lunch then once again they were mistaken, as former Surrey bowler Magoffin joined Wells and the pair began to build another partnership which took the game away from us.

They brought up their first batting point, which looked a long way off, just after 2 O’clock, and after being starved of the strike for a while, Wells completed a superb century, his second against us this season. He had made batting look so easy, and without his runs, Sussex wouldn’t have got anywhere near where they finished.

Soon after, the lead had gone past the 100 mark, and our bowlers didn’t seem to know what to do to remove either of the batsman. Lewis and Meaker took the new ball, and it was difficult for the bowlers, especially Lewis, who had to run straight into the wind. The new ball did the trick, as Magoffin flicked Lewis into the leg side, and Jason Roy took a good high catch at midwicket.

Once again Surrey would have been looking to finish off the innings sharpish, but as he did on the opening game of the season, Jimmy Anyon stuck in with Luke Wells and built another partnership to take Sussex to tea 8 down.

Kartik managed to get the wicket of Wells after tea, but the damage had already been done, as he went for a magnificent 127, and the lead had gone past 150 to make just 2 results possible. Panesar joined Anyon and the pair started to enjoy themselves, hitting the spin twins of Kartik and Batty all around Cricket Field Road, including 2 huge sixes from Anyon, and one from Monty.

It was quite embarrassing really, and when Batty finally picked up the wicket of Panesar, the final wicket had put on 80, to take their side to an all out total of 351, a lead of 227. The final 4 wickets had put on a massive 264, and our inability to finish off an innings was apparent again, something which has been a problem for a few years now.

Our batsman had 11 overs to bat, and once again Ramprakash and Roy opened up. Roy started typically attackingly, finding the boundary with a regular occurrence, dominating the partnership with the 42 year old batting more watchfully. After the 90 overs in the day had been bowled, an extra half hour was declared by the umpires due to the time lost in the game, and in the very first over of the half hour, Roy got a brute of a delivery from Magoffin which he couldn’t get his bat out of the way of, and went caught in the gully for 35. In the end we closed on 39-1, with nightwatchman Meaker joining Ramps.

Overall, a terrible day for us then. We have two major weaknesses in 4 day cricket; batting in the first innings and failing to finish off an innings, and they have both came out in abundance in this game. It is very worrying because if we lose this game, relegation would be a real prospect this season, and that would be the worst thing to happen to this young team.

Even though the pitch looks ok to bat on, it certainly won’t be easy to bat out the whole of tomorrow, but if we did, it would give us some much needed confidence for the rest of the season. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Fiery Meaker leads fightback on Day 2

A fiery spell from Stuart Meaker has put Surrey back in the LVCC Division One match against Sussex at Horsham, after reducing the hosts to 90-6 on a day badly affected by the weather.

What a difference 6 overs can make to a game. Sussex started the morning 81-2, trailing by just the 43 runs, and looking for a large first innings lead. However, Stuart Meaker set apart an angry spell of bowling this morning to turn the game on its head.

He found success with the very first ball of the day, when he got a short ball to leap at the oppositions skipper, Yardy, who could only fend the ball to Ramps at gully. A perfect start to the morning, and that was just the start of it. Joe Gatting came to the middle, and could only last until Meaker’s next over, when the England seamer beat him for pace and sent his off stump flying.

There was then a heavy rain shower, which forced the players off for 45 minutes and give Meaker a breather.

When the players got back out there, the wickets continued to tumble. Steve Davies had managed to get back from Birmingham to replace Gary Wilson, who played for the first 10 minutes of the day, and he was in the action straight away, as Murali Kartik got Luke Wright to edge behind. Wicketkeeper Brown managed to get off the mark, but didn’t last long either, as Meaker beat him for pace and trapped him LBW.

The rain then came, and didn’t stop, as the day was brought to an early end shortly after half past two. If you said to me yesterday that most of the day would be washed out I wouldn’t have been too disappointed, but after the start we had today, it was rather annoying. Sussex had lost 4 wickets for 9 runs in the 6 overs today, and add the wicket of Nash to that from last night, they had lost 5 for just 10.

Even though the job is only half done, our bowlers have once again done a magnificient job, and obviously in particular Stuart Meaker, who has one of the best strike rates in the Division. Murali Kartik also seems to have settled in well, showing form that he failed to produce in the recent IPL.

The forecast for tomorrow isn’t the greatest, but there is a good chance that we will get more play than today, so there is plenty of time for a result in this game. If we are able to complete the job before they can get to 150, or maybe before they reach our score, it would be good, but Luke Wells seems to like to bat against us and Arif is no mug, so we need to make sure that we don’t let this slip.

When we do bowl them out, we will obviously need to improve with the bat on the rather dismal performance in the first innings, but once again it shows that our bowlers are up to it in this division and if the batters can start to perform, we would be one of the stronger teams in the country.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Sussex in control as batsman crumble

Sussex have dominated day one of the LVCC Division One match at Horsham, after bowling Surrey out for just 124, and finishing just 43 behind with 8 first innings wickets in hand.

Michael Yardy won the toss and stuck us in, on a cloudy but dry morning in Horsham. Gary Wilson and Tim Linley were the two to be left out of the 13 man squad, which meant the tail would be quite long with Batty at 7, Lewis at 8. Murray Goodwin was left out of the Sussex line up, and when the teams walked to the middle, Jason Roy was surprisingly (not for some!) joined by Mark Ramprakash, to add to the countless opening partnerships that Adams has tried over the last few seasons.

Batting looked difficult for the pair, with Ramps off the mark first ball with an inside edge passed his leg stump. Roy was subdued against some tight bowling from Anyon and Magoffin, and they combined to remove Roy, when he got frustrated and looked to launch the Australian down the ground, but could only find Anyon at mid on. Typical Roy yet again, getting out playing a needless shot at just the wrong time.

Ramps was the next man to when he got a good one from Magoffin and was caught behind for just 8. So, no sign of a return to form for Ramps, but the conditions were extremely tough and each batsman seemed to struggle. And after a brief break for rain, de Bruyn was caught at slip for 5 and we were 32-3 after the first hour’s play.

RHB came to the crease with his side needing him to score an innings which he has done many times this season, but he lasted just the one ball, as Anyon had him strangled down the leg side. And we had then lost 3 wickets for 0 runs, as Davies was caught superbly by Wells for 5, as we had slipped to 32-5.

Maynard counter-attacked the Sussex bowlers, until he was caught in the slips for 17, and at 52-6, 3 figures looked a long way off. Lewis and Batty managed to take us to lunch just (!) the 6 down on 78, but the damage had already been done, and anything they could add would take us towards some kind of respectability.   

The last 4 wickets managed to add a further 46 runs after the Lunch break, with Batty the first to fall for 32. Lewis then went for 14 before Kartik and Meaker took us over 100. Meaker went for 3, and Dernbach for 0, and an unbeaten 23 from Kartik lead us to our all out score of 124. It was without doubt difficult conditions to bat, but we made it look harder than it was, as 124 was well below par.

Jon Lewis made the perfect start to the innings, when he enticed Joyce into a drive and Davies did the rest. However, Nash was joined by centurion from the first game of the season Luke Wells and the pair looked comfortable at the crease. It began to look like a completely different game than this morning, as they scored freely around the small ground at Horsham. It highlighted how bad our batsman batted, as Sussex went to tea 80-1, and looking at a large first innings lead.

Straight after tea Murali Kartik claimed his first championship wicket for Surrey as he had Chris Nash caught by Jason Roy. However, at the end of that over, the rain came and didn’t stop and there was an early close with Sussex 81-2, trailing by just 43.

A very poor day for us then, in a game that we need to win. The batting has once again let us down, with senior batsman failing to step up to the plate and score big. Granted, it was difficult to bat on early on, but it certainly wasn’t a 124 all out pitch. Some of the batsman, namely Ramps, got good balls which they couldn’t do anything about, but RHB and especially Roy will be disappointed with the way they got out.

The bowlers have done wonders a lot of time this season when we have been firmly on the backfoot in the game, and who says that they won’t do it again? It will be difficult, but if they can somehow restrict the hosts to under 200, then it wouldn’t be too bad.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Ramps returns for vital game

Mark Ramprakash has returned to a 13 man squad for the critical LVCC Division One match against Sussex at Horsham starting tomorrow. He comes in for Jacques Rudolph, who has gone back to South Africa.

The 42 year old hasn’t played for the first team since the draw at New Road a month ago, a game in which he registered just his 3rd pair in his First Class career. He hasn’t exactly found form in the second X1, top scoring with 29 out of 3 innings, so some may say that he doesn’t deserve to come back in. Rory Burns has been consistent in the 2’s this year and will be disappointed not to get the call.

However, Ramps has been given the nod, and I am just happy to see him back in our side. He has played 3 times for his club side Stanmore CC in the Middlesex Premier Division since being dropped, and has scored 3 half centuries, including an unbeaten 80 on Saturday to lead his side to victory. I admit this isn’t the greatest standard of cricket, but it is competitive, and has enabled Ramps to have some time in the middle. Let’s hope it pays off this week.

Gary Wilson has come into the squad as a batsman after hitting hundreds in his last 2 appearances in the Second Eleven Championship. He has replaced Chris Jordan, who seemed to be suffering with low confidence in the games he has played so far. Presumably he will play, and bat at 7, as the tail would look rather long otherwise.

After his impressive debut on Saturday against the Welsh Dragons, and his rather expensive spell against Scotland today, Murali Kartik will be making his first appearance in red ball cricket for Surrey this season. Chris Adams will now face the dilemma of who to leave out, with Batty, Lewis, Dernbach Meaker and Linley all vying for 3 spots. Batty will certainly play after his 10 wickets against Somerset last week, and Meaker will presumably keep his spot.

So it may be between Dernbach, Lewis and Linley for that last place. Lewis has had a very good season so far, whereas Dernbach has been a bit hit and miss. However, the 36 year old has played every game so far, so may be in need of a rest, and Adams will want to get the most out of Jade before the ODI series against the West Indies next week. The Viscount will without doubt get his chance in the next few weeks.

Jason Roy will want to add to the 70 he scored against Warwickshire last week, and make a more sizeable contribution, to cement his place at the top of the order. He always looks in good form but then seems to get himself out. If he continues to fail to kick on from good starts, then Burns will be ready to pounce.

Zander de Bruyn seemed to find some form on Saturday with his vital 52 at the Swalec Stadium, which is much needed, as his stick-ability has been sorely missed in the middle order so far this season. RHB and Maynard will want to rediscover their form from a few weeks ago, after the pair failed to make an impact in the defeat to Warwickshire.

This game is huge for both sides, who find themselves next to each other towards the bottom of Division One, separated by just 3 points. With just 2 wins between us this season, it has been a struggle for both parties, but our only win was against tomorrow’s opposition in the first game back at the Kia Oval, so confidence from that will be taken into this one.

Their squad contains former Surrey bowler Steve Magoffin, who didn’t play when the sides met before, and Luke Wright who seems to be in superb form after his IPL exploits. Surrey’s (and many other teams!) nemesis Murray Goodwin has once again been named after a poor start to the season, as a half century last week has seemingly kept his place in the team.

Win this game, and we will move up a few places, lose, and the fight to stay in Division One will be on.

Surrey Squad:
R. Hamilton-Brown (C)
S. Davies (WK)
J. Roy
M. Ramprakash
Z. De Bruyn
T. Maynard
G. Wilson
G. Batty
M. Kartik
J. Lewis
S. Meaker
J. Dernbach
T. Linley

Sussex Squad:
M. Yardy (C)
C. Nash
E. Joyce
L. Wells
M. Goodwin
J. Gatting
B. Brown (WK)
L. Wright
N. Arif
J. Anyon
S. Magoffin
A. Khan
M. Panesar