In terms of wins for Surrey it’s just like the number 36 and 185 buses that run alongside the Oval – you wait ages and then two come along together. Just as encouraging is the formula Surrey have hit upon in recent games in the T20 – spin with the ball and patience with the bat.
All too often in T20, batsmen get out attempting a shot that just isn’t there, rather than playing each ball on merit. The stats say that 75 per cent of Twenty20 games are won by the team with the most runs at the fall of the second wicket.
To be in second place in the group with half of the games played is not something Surrey are accustomed to.
Indeed, the Oval outfit have only progressed to the knockout phase three times in the last 13 seasons.
But tonight’s game against Essex is huge, even though the defending champions are still in the starting blocks. A win would give Surrey’s young guns so much belief.
Earlier this week, the Bob Willis Trophy match between Gloucestershire and Northants became the first professional sports event to be abandoned mid-action due to the Covid-19 pandemic, after a member of the Northants squad tested positive.
I’ve no doubt the same protocols would have applied, but one wonders what would have happened if it had been a game as crucial as the Worcester-Somerset one.
Coronavirus hasn’t gone away, and it’s good to see that cricket seems to be handling Covid-19 so decisively.
ESSEX v SURREY
Jacks, Amla, Evans, Foakes (wk), Burns, Smith, Borthwick, Atkinson, Batty (capt), Moriarty and Topley.
Chopra, Delport, Westley, Lawrence, Walter, ten Doeschate, Wheater (wk), Harmer (capt), Snater, Nijjar and Quinn.
Ben Foakes (Surrey) – since parting company with Essex in 2014 he averages 53.75 with the bat against his former employers in white-ball cricket.
Ryan ten Doeschate (Essex) – averaging 48.66 in this year’s Blast and his 42 against Kent last weekend is the closest any Essex batsman has come to hitting a 50 in the T20.
Essex are yet to record a victory in this season’s Vitality Blast, but write off the defending champions at your peril. Last year they only just secured a quarter-final berth, which came on the back of three wins and a tie in four to round off the group phase. Surrey currently occupy second place in the South Group, but Sussex, who are third, have a game in hand. The draw for the last eight will be made up of first and second in each group, plus the two third-placed teams with the best records.
Of those bowlers who have sent down more than six overs in this summer’s Vitality Blast, Surrey account for five of the 21 most economical – Will Jacks (5.36 runs per over), Gareth Batty (5.75), Dan Moriarty (5.94), Reece Topley (6.40) and Scott Borthwick (6.66).
Rory Burns – in his absence, Surrey’s best stand for any wicket in the Bob Willis Trophy had been 105; so to go out at the first time of asking and put on 164 at the top of the order with Scott Borthwick, just showed the class of the man.
Gareth Batty’s two wickets in three balls in the T20 against Middlesex, which saw Surrey restrict their neighbours to just 113-9 – the lowest 20-over total at the Oval since 2015, when, coincidentally, it was Middlesex who only managed to cobble together 105-9.
September 11: Essex v Surrey at Chelmsford (Vitality Blast)
September 14: Middlesex v Surrey at Lord’s (Vitality Blast)
September 16: Surrey v Sussex at the Kia Oval (Vitality Blast).
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