With just 3 games remaining (hopefully not!) in this year’s Friends Life T20, I thought that I would write a blogpost on where we are at the moment, and how we should rediscover the form we showed pre-Nottinghamshire game.
With 4 wins out of 5, we certainly looked in a great position to qualify for the quarter finals for the first time since 2006, with 3 wins needed to all but seal our place. However, 2 games later we still sit on 8 points, now requiring a victory in our final 3 games to have a realistic chance of going through.
So what’s been going wrong in the last couple of games? Well, I don’t think you can look too far past the batting efforts that we have put in those games. We haven’t performed with the bat at all in the competition so far, but I felt the Essex and Hampshire defeats this week were particularly poor. Before the mid-competition break, which I personally feel didn’t help at all, the bowlers won us the game in at least 3 of the 4 victories we acquired, with Kent the one exception, but we cannot keep relying on them to pull us out of the mire.
Hampshire and Essex both have very strong batting line ups, both better than their bowling in my opinion, and will chase down modest totals which we set them. In both of the games last week the bowlers didn’t do a bad job, but were not helped by inept performances from most of the batsmen. Ponting did well in the Essex game, but apart from that there was no one who hit a score of substance in either of the games.
As has been mentioned previously we rely a lot on our openers, usually Jason Roy and Steve Davies, in limited overs cricket and if they don’t fire, then we struggle to post decent scores. You can’t really argue with that in my opinion as the one time one of those two really fired in this year’s competition was when Davies hit an unbeaten 90-odd against Kent, our highest team total in the tournament. However, apart from that innings, Davies has been very disappointing in the games that he has played, often getting out in an innocuous fashion and not even making a decent start, let alone a big innings.
Jason Roy at times has looked the world’s best batsmen at the crease, especially with shots such as the reverse sweep for 6 off Dimi Mascarenhas, but he has also failed to make a large impact. He has had a better time of it than Davies, but he would be annoyed at the way he gets out sometimes, especially after he took 10 off of Mascarenhas’ first two balls in an over before being bowled looking for another big hit next ball. Alec Stewart and most Surrey fans will know that Davies and Roy are our two gun players in this competition, and if they don’t find form, we will struggle.
We shouldn’t have to rely on two players however, but the others have failed to apply themselves to the situation in front of them. Ponting has had one good game, Maxwell didn’t really have any, Mahmood has been a real disappointment after the form he showed in the IPL and Ansari has also been a tad frustrating at times. Gary Wilson obviously has been invaluable at times, and got us to competitive totals, but he won’t blast you to victory with his style of batting I don’t think.
So what’s got to change? I would make several changes to the team/ batting order. I would stick with the top 3 because they are our best 3 and should stay there. Azhar shouldn’t really be batting in the top 7 I don’t think, and either Burns or Solanki should be brought into the middle order to firm it up. De Bruyn should be taken out of the side because I don’t think his bowling warrants a place in the team, and either Tom Jewell or Tom Curran should be given a go down at 8. Jon Lewis shouldn’t be playing as his little medium pace dobbers have been played relatively easily of recent times, and Tremlett should be backed to perform in this format.
Other than that, there aren’t many other changes I would make to the team because there aren’t many other options pure and simply! I knew at the beginning of the season we were a batsmen or two light, and when the ones you do have hit a bad run of form, it puts you in a spot of bother.
So, overall, to win our final 3 games we must post better scores. Two of our 3 games are away from the Oval, at Lord’s and Chelmsford where the boundaries are relatively small, so hopefully we can use that as an advantage and produce the goods when it matters.