Cricket: Laurie Evans on Surrey’s T20 hopes and why quarter-finals are such a nervy affair

BY RICHARD CAWLEY
richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Laurie Evans has warned that Surrey have no divine right to reach T20 finals day despite cruising to quarter-final qualification with four matches to spare.

The South London club won their opening nine fixtures in the Vitality Blast to assure their spot in the last eight, which takes place next Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Surrey had only progressed in two of the previous seven seasons but the encounters with Kent Spitfires, at The Kia Oval tonight, and at Somerset on Sunday will only determine whether they have home advantage.

Surrey’s run rate of 0.878 is only bettered by Birmingham Bears (1.316) and Yorkshire Vikings (1.289).

Lambeth-born Evans, 34, signed a white-ball only deal with Surrey in March – fresh off of featuring for Big Bash victors Perth Scorchers.

And he reckons that Surrey were a daunting proposition at the start of their Blast campaign before Ollie Pope and Jamie Overton headed off on England duty.

“I don’t know there is a better T20 side in the world, including IPL, with the side we had available to us – and we still had a few guys out injured,” Evans told the South London Press.

“It’s always tough at Surrey – a massive club that has provided a lot of players for England in all formats – at one stage people were calling us the Harlem Globetrotters of cricket because of the amount of talent we had on show.

“That’s one of the big things Surrey have to deal with and that’s why we need a big squad to be able to handle all of that – T20 is a long competition and we’ve done brilliantly to win so many games in a row.
Surrey’s one piece of silverware in the T20 came in 2003, the inaugural competition.

Evans is not about to get carried away by his side’s impressive start.

“I played in a Sussex team where we won near enough every group game but got to the quarter-final and lost -that’s your tournament done.

“The guys are very much looking forward to the quarter-finals now. We’ve got a couple of games to go, it would be nice to get a home quarter-final but I don’t see it as a massive difference.

“It’s about how you can handle the pressure on the day. There’s probably even more pressure than the semi-final and final because everyone wants to get to finals day – no-one wants to miss out.

“The quarter-finals are nervy, horrible occasions. But that is where your big players step up.

“We’re confident but we’ve got no right to walk through.

“We’ve had a couple of slip-ups recently but that’s always going to happen. The amount of times you see guys lifting the trophy and they’ve barely scraped through the group stage.”

Evans has been batting fourth or fifth in the order. Is he happy with that?

“I’ve been given a different role this year,” he said. “We’ve got some young kids who like to play with some freedom and no fear of failure or losing the game.

“Being an older guy in the side, it’s my job to make sure we are getting either a good first innings total or we are finishing games off and trying to get the win. The hardest place to bat is through the middle overs – managing the pressure and the run chase. I’ve been given that task.

“I haven’t scored as many runs as I’d have liked this year but I’ve had a couple of games where I’ve really got going and felt good – we’ve been winning, so it doesn’t necessarily matter.  If we were losing it would be a bit more of a big deal. I’m just here to contribute, if I can.”

Evans was born at St Thomas’ Hospital. He lived in Brixton and Honor Oak before moving with his parents to Beckenham when he was 10.

“They still live there – I’m South-East London through and through,” said Evans. “I love it – it’s in my blood. I love being back at Surrey. I went to school in Croydon. It’s weird driving through all the places I grew up in, it’s pretty nostalgic.”

The Big Bash has introduced an overseas draft for this year’s tournament, intended to favour the less successful teams. It could mean Evans, man of the match in last season’s final after scoring 76 from 41 balls, facing Perth Scorchers.

“It’s a new way of doing things,” said Evans. “I’m hoping to be going back out there, absolutely.

“It would be very odd to be playing for a different team considering I’ve only had one tournament there and we won it with Perth.

“But it’s the professional world of cricket, you just have to get on with it – whatever happens.”

* Evans is an ambassador for Step One, the sustainable and ethical underwear brand, created to offer unbelievable comfort for men and women inclusive for all body shapes and sizes.

He said: “They are a genuinely brilliant product. It’s so important nowadays that companies start with sustainability and a great product. They are a fantastic company to be a part of and a great message.”

PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD

 

 


 

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