BY MARCUS HOOK
Laurie Evans admits he has not found it easy since returning to Surrey after eight years at Warwickshire and then Sussex.
Given the confidence the 32-year-old exudes at the crease, that comes as a major surprise.
After hitting just one 50 and averaging 28.66 with the bat in the Bob Willis Trophy, Evans said he desperately needed a match-winning performance in the Vitality Blast to finally feel back where he belongs.
Evans’s swashbuckling 88 not out off 52 balls, including four sixes, was instrumental in Surrey maintaining their winning run in the T20 Blast against Essex at Chelmsford last week.
“I’d be lying if I said I’ve felt my most confident and my most settled since moving,” said Evans.
“It’s been a pretty tough time, so it means the world to get us over the line in a tight finish.
“I just thought the way we scrapped from 10 overs onwards, as we’ve done through the whole competition really, was really good to see.”
But, with 12 wanted off the last over, Evans needed help and found it in the shape of 22-year-old all-rounder Gus Atkinson, who hit an unbeaten 10 off just five balls to seal the deal.
“Nothing fazes him,” said Evans. “I was surprised he didn’t walk out to bat in his sunglasses. Sam Cook bowled a great final over for them, but he missed with the last ball and Gus put him away.
“I know it’s my job and how I’ve made my name over the last few years, but it was good Gus was there because, by then, I was knackered.”
“We’re building some nice momentum in this competition now. It’s a relatively new team, with a few new faces, so it’s nice to get settled so quickly.
“We’ve got some hard-working players, and that’s what we’re trying to create here – work hard and try and learn as quickly as possible, and become even better.
“I’ve been really impressed with the level of intensity and the desire to win.
“It’s obviously a great club with some high expectations, so it’s good to have got off to such a good start in the Blast.
“The South Group has got some good sides in it, but we keep turning up and finding a way. We’re not perfect – nowhere near – so there’s work to do, but we’ll keep doing it.”
A stipulation of his loan deal, ahead of the permanent one that starts next season, is that Evans is barred from playing against Sussex; for whom he has 1,186 T20 runs at an average of 47.44 over three summers.
“It’s been difficult to sit out the games against Sussex,” said the 32-year-old, who has also played franchise cricket in Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Caribbean.
“It’s been great to pull on the shirt and the three feathers again. When the opportunity came up it was a pretty easy decision.
“Playing against Surrey, it’s always been tough. Gareth Batty got me out last year, so it’s been nice not to have to face him and him giving me the send off, which he always does.
“T20 is just a great format. I love playing it and I’m excited to be able to contribute and win games of cricket.
“It’s highly skilled. Each T20 tournament provides something different. In Pakistan, the fast bowling is amazing. The talent there is extraordinary. In the Caribbean all the wickets are different, so spin bowling comes into it.
“There’s different elements you need to take to each tournament and each game. But the Blast is right up there for me. The level of detail and quality of player across the board is incredible, when you think we’ve got 18 teams.
“I haven’t played in the IPL or the Big Bash, but hopefully, one day, it will be nice to see where the Blast stands against those.”
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