Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Surrey's greatest T20 X1

With it being 10 years since we lifted the inaugural Twenty20 Cup, I felt that it was a fitting time to look back at Surrey’s performance over the last decade in the razzmatazz of the shortest form of the game. Some players I have selected in Surrey’s best Twenty20 X1 were an easy pick, whereas others were more difficult to choose and more debatable. So, here is my X1:

Runs:  1170
Average: 23.40
Strike Rate: 156.00
Highest Score: 83
Being one of only 3 players to have passed 1000 runs for us in history, not many will argue with the selection of Ali Brown at the top of the order. Perhaps T20 came a few years late for Brown to really be at his destructive best, because in his pomp in One Day cricket he was unstoppable at times, but he still managed to hit the ball out of the park at a consistent basis in the early years of the format. It was a surprise that he never made a century, registering just 7 half centuries for us in 6 years, but he often got the innings off to a flyer and hit an unbeaten 55 to guide us to glory against Warwickshire in 2003. Brown has also claimed the most catches for us with 34, 13 more than next highest Stewart Walters.

Runs: 938
Average: 27.58
Strike Rate: 155.29
Highest Score: 99*
With 3 of the top 5 scores for us in T20 cricket being scored by Steve Davies, the former Worcestershire wicket keeper was an easy choice to open the batting with Brown. One of the most elegant batsman to play for our club for years, stroking the ball to the boundary in an effortless manner, it is a wonder why he hasn’t played more international cricket. On his day there are no better than Davo and he was undoubtedly the best signing in the Chris Adams era.

Runs: 729
Average: 22.78
Strike Rate: 137.03
Highest Score: 101*
One of the main reasons Jason Roy is in the team is purely because of the fact that he is the only Surrey player to have hit a T20 hundred. It was in 2010 against Kent at Beckenham and at the time he was a relative unknown around the county circuit, but he has since grown a reputation as one of the bigger hitters in the country. Don’t forget that he is still young and will, in my opinion, grow into the greatest T20 batsman in the club’s history.

Runs: 1032
Average: 22.43
Strike Rate: 130.79
Highest Score: 88
Ok, so James Benning was an opener and not someone who would bat at number 4, but I had to fit him in somewhere. Tipped for an England career for many years, Benning was an explosive batsman for us in the first few years of the competition and along with Ali Brown produced one of the best partnerships in the history of T20 cricket in England. It’s a shame that his time with us ended as it did and that his career has gone downhill, because at the age of just 30, he still could have had plenty of years left in him.

Runs: 1719
Average: 32.43
Strike Rate: 125.01
Highest Score: 85*
Probably my easiest choice to have in the team is the legend that is Ramps, who is our leading T20 run scorer by almost 600 runs. Perhaps not the format most suited to his style of batting, but he showed on many occasions that he was more than capable to put together an aggressive innings. He hit 13 half centuries, 6 more than the next highest Ali Brown, including a memorable unbeaten 85 to beat his old side Middlesex. Only 19 players have scored more runs than him in the English T20 game, with most of them playing far more games than Ramps did.

Runs: 257
Wickets: 36
Highest Score: 65*
Best Figures: 5-21
He may have only played two seasons of T20 cricket for us before he retired, but I don’t think there is anyone who can question my choice of having Adam Hollioake in the side as captain. Leading us to glory in the first year of the format, where most of the players admitted that they didn’t know what to do and what to expect from it, Hollioake spearheaded the attack with his, unplayable at times, medium pace. He didn’t captain the side the following year but he still performed, and considering there were far fewer games in the tournament than there is now, to claim 36 wickets in 2 seasons was a remarkable achievement. He remains the only Surrey bowler to claim 2 five wicket hauls in Twenty 20 and will long be remembered as a Surrey legend.

Runs: 665
Wickets: 33
Highest Score: 65*
Best Figures: 4-20
At his best, Azhar was the perfect T20 player. With the ability to hit the ball to all parts in double quick time and be very effective with the ball at both the start and end of an innings. Ok, maybe he was never the quickest mover in the field, but he could make up for that by keeping it tight with the ball. He played a key part in our early success in the competition and always came back to haunt us when we played against him for Kent, and hopefully the leading wicket taker in Domestic T20 cricket with 103 can bring us some much awaited success this year.

Runs: 203
Wickets: 53
Highest Score: 30*
Best Figures: 4-12
Schoey was very much hit and miss with the ball with us, but in T20 cricket you could always rely on him getting you a wicket. He is the joint leading wicket taker for us and took his 53 inside just 4 years. He may go around the park every now and then, but that happens to the best of leg spinners, and his batting was more than useful at times. Personally, I feel that he often batted too low down in the side and he should have batted higher to exploit his ability to hit the ball into strange areas.

Wickets: 37
Best Figures: 6-24
Strike Rate: 15.60
This maybe a controversial choice because he is now at Middlesex, but Tim Murtagh is the joint leading wicket taking seamer in T20 cricket for Surrey. His strike rate shows that he would regularly pick up wickets and his figures of 6-24 against his current club at Lord’s in 2005 are still to be beaten by a Surrey bowler 8 years on.

Wickets: 37
Best Figures: 4-16
Strike Rate: 14.20
The selection of the big man may surprise many people but by looking at his stats alone it is clear that he can be a fine bowler in the shortest format of the game. He has taken the same amount of wickets as Murtagh in 4 less matches and his economy rate of 7.02 is very rare in this day and age. A fit and firing Tremlett will be vital if we are going to succeed in this year’s competition.

Wickets: 53
Best Figures: 4-22
Strike Rate: 12.5
Last but certainly not least is mercurial talent that is Nayan Doshi. He never really impressed in First Class or List A cricket, but when it came to T20 it was a different story. He destroyed the myth that spinners would be played with ease in this format by going at just 7 runs per over and picking up a wickets every 12 balls he bowled. He tailed off in his last couple of years at the club but still remains the joint wicket taker for us with 53, which made him a dead cert for selection in my team.

Who came close?
There were quite a few players who came close to getting into the team when I was deliberating. Batsman such as Rory Hamilton-Brown, Tom Maynard and Scott Newman as well as all-rounders such as Matthew Spriegel. Bowlers who could have been included are those such as Jade Dernbach, but with 37 wickets from over 40 matches I chose not to select him, and Jimmy Ormond who tore Warwickshire’s top order apart in the final in 2003.

So, that’s my team. As you would have noticed, over 50% of the side is from the years when we were successful in Twenty 20. Would that team win the Twenty 20 competition in this day and age? Possibly, but the game has changed since then. I feel that X1 has the perfect weighting of big hitting batsman, those who accumulate runs quickly, bowlers who keep it tight and claim wickets at regular intervals in a 4 over spell.

If you have any queries or objections to the team I’ve chose, then I would be happy to hear them, so tweet to @SurreyFanBlog.

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