Aware that you cannot change a player once the match has started – other than to allow for guys left out of the Test team to return to their counties and in the event of a diagnosed concussion – I was surprised when the club announced on its website that both teams had agreed to Amar Virdi filling in for the unwell Gareth Batty.
The Kent game came close to having to be replayed, which might not have been a bad thing from Surrey’s perspective, given their apparent crisis of confidence; not to mention the problems an all-seam front-line attack went on to have in terms of keeping the right side of the over-rate.
I then noticed the umpires smelling the ball, shortly before most of the players ran off in the direction of the groundsman’s workshop – to wash their hands, as it turned out.
But, as I say, Surrey appear to be at an low ebb. I’ve just expected them to rediscover their mojo, but now I’m beginning to wonder.
In the field there are long periods of silence if wickets aren’t falling, which just isn’t Surrey. It was noticeable that Morne Morkel can often be seen working on his run up with Surrey’s bowling coach Richard Johnson, plus there’s a general lack of application with the bat.
At last summer’s high point, Surrey reeled off first innings totals of 434, 414, 368, 459, 267, 592, 211, 375, 351, 268 and 485. In their last six games, they have averaged 260 in the first dig; and during that time only one man – Mark Stoneman – has hit a hundred in the championship.
This weekend’s clash with bottom of the table Notts may not be a must-win for Surrey, because Notts are so far adrift the Oval outfit would have to play abysmally between now and the end of the season to get relegated. But it’s certainly a must-not-lose.
Finally, best of luck to a popular man at the Oval, Arun Harinath – who is now on loan at Hampshire for the rest of the season (that too was announced on Surrey’s website amid everything else that was happening on Monday morning).
Hampshire, as well as Notts, are one of two teams Surrey are yet to face in the championship. As long as Arun doesn’t make a stack of runs when he plays against us, no-one would begrudge him doing well in his new surroundings.
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