BY MARCUS HOOK
The story at Lord’s was one of dropped catches. The South Londoners spilled five to Middlesex’s one. My take on Alec Stewart’s post-match comments is that he felt chances going to ground was the main reason for Surrey’s eighth defeat in 11 in four-day cricket. What disappointed me most was the batting, which continues to be found wanting away from home.
Surrey have now failed to make 190 in 10 of their last 12 innings away from the Oval in first-class cricket. An all-international top five in the order should be guaranteeing totals in excess of 300. As it was, the South Londoners mustered a mere 284 across both digs against Middlesex. To put that in context, Surrey have only been bowled out twice for less on seven occasions since the move from three to four-day cricket in 1993.
You may recall that I highlighted Hashim Amla as a key player, both at the start of the season and prior to the Middlesex clash. He bagged a pair at Lord’s – albeit only his third in a 241-match career – but it means the 38-year-old has made a mere 78 runs in five innings, four of which have seen him depart leg before. The last thing you want from your overseas batsman is to appear a walking wicket.
On paper, Surrey’s opening trio of fixtures were supposedly against the three least fancied sides in their group. Just two teams have fewer points heading into the fourth round of matches, in which the Oval outfit are taking on a Hampshire side who appear to be growing in confidence with every passing game.
Before the season got underway, Stewart (pictured) was asked for his thoughts on the format for this year’s County Championship.
He said: “Because of the Covid situation we still find ourselves in, it is what it is. I’m still a firm fan of two divisions, but I fully understand the conference system – in case there are little Covid hiccups, which, fingers crossed, there won’t be.
“I know there are some counties who will want it to stay. But, to me, two divisions with promotion and relegation is the best format, and I hope it returns.”
Stewart added that he couldn’t envisage what the teams who are shuffled into Divisions Two and Three will be playing for in September. At this rate, Surrey will find out.
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