Surrey continue to demonstrate that the upside to losing players to international calls is the chance to blood youngsters who, invariably it would seem, repay the faith by grabbing their opportunities with both hands.
Indeed, eight of Surrey’s starting 11 for this week’s County Championship clash with Kent are products of the club’s academy.
Ben Geddes is the latest to catch the eye.
His run of first-class scores this summer reads 104, 21, 25 and 124 – the most recent being his maiden championship hundred.
The 20-year-old struggled in last season’s Vitality Blast, in which he averaged just 7.33 in eight games.
Alec Stewart predicted it would only stand Geddes in good stead – and so it has proved.
While Surrey’s mammoth 673-7 will be remembered for some adventurous strokeplay – particularly from the likes of Sam Curran and Will Jacks – at its heart was Geddes and Hashim Amla’s 213-run alliance for the third wicket.
“I sit next to Hashim in the dressing room, so I’ve picked up a few tips,” said Geddes, who batted for four and three-quarter hours, stroking 16 fours and two pulls for six.
“I was here as a kid, sitting in the stands, when Hash scored his 311 for South Africa against England. So to get the chance to bat with him, is very special. He was brilliant throughout my innings.
“I had a frustrating start to the season, because I broke my thumb, so I missed the first five weeks. I played a twos game against Essex, then I got some runs in the game with the Sri Lankan Development XI. That gave me confidence, because it showed everything I did over the winter was still there.
“I felt good in the last match at Taunton, where I realised for the first time I can play at this level. Obviously, it was frustrating when you get starts and throw them away. So, here, as soon as I felt in, I just wanted to cash in and get as many as I possibly could.
“A lot of hard work has gone into it, throughout the winter, with Gareth Batty and Vikram Solanki. I can’t thank them enough. They’ve both put so much into my game.”
SURREY V KENT (probable line-ups)
Roy, Jacks, Evans,
S Curran, Narine, Burns, Jordan (capt), Smith (wk), Atkinson, Worrall, Topley.
Denly, Bell-Drummond, Cox, Billings (capt, wk), Blake, Linde, Leaning, Stewart, Ahmad, Singh, Klaassen.
Jason Roy (Surrey, pictured) – had a quiet Blast by his standards, averaging 27.87 with the bat, but it’s only a question of time before he goes big.
Joe Denly (Kent) – The former England opener’s haul of 416 runs (average 37.81) is only bettered in the South Group by Hampshire’s James Vince (543), Somerset’s Rilee Rossouw (498) and Surrey’s Will Jacks (422).
Despite losing their last two in the Blast, Surrey remain top of the South Group and are assured of a place in the last eight. Kent’s title defence simply never got going. They have won just three of their 12 matches in the T20.
Surrey’s first innings against Kent this week included four individual centurions. It has happened before, but only twice for the South Londoners – versus Notts in 1947 and against Loughborough UCCE in 2003.
Sam Curran, who followed up his quickfire 126 with three wickets in 24 overs in the draw with Kent.
Sam Curran bringing up his maiden first-class century on day two against Kent, off just 64 balls, with a massive six into the first tier of the members’ pavilion. In this season’s championship, the 24-year-old has now hit 80, 33, 64, 73, 78 and 126. By any measure, that’s England form.
July 1 – Surrey v Kent at the Kia Oval (Vitality Blast)
July 3 – Somerset v Surrey at Taunton (Vitality Blast)
July 6-9 – Vitality Blast quarter-finals
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