Marcus Hook’s Surrey CCC column: T20 Blast loss to Sussex fuels debate to push Smith up batting order

While Surrey’s loss to Sussex was further proof that the Oval outfit are yet to deliver their A-game in the T20 Blast, the South Londoners still have three wins out of four and remain very much on course to qualify for the knockout phase.

Ollie Pope came away from the 36-run defeat to the Sharks with the dubious honour of making the highest individual T20 score for Surrey in a losing cause.

But by the time Pope took guard his side’s chances were already ebbing away.

Sussex should never have been allowed to put 213 on the board.

Only Tom Curran (3-32) and Dan Lawrence (2-26) delivered with the ball .

When Surrey batted the top three just didn’t get going.

Perhaps there’s a case for pushing Jamie Smith – the tournament’s leading run-maker with 211 at an average of 52.75 – up the order.

Smith needs to face as many deliveries as possible, instead of being the man the South Londoners turn to if things need turning around.

In the men’s T20 World Cup, many have been surprised by some of the associate nations, but not me – simply because Twenty20 is the least predictable format of the game.

At the group phase’s halfway stage, USA and Canada are above Ireland and Pakistan in Group A, Scotland are top of group B and New Zealand and Sri Lanka are bottom of groups C and D respectively.

I’m still confident England will progress to the Super Eights, but only if they’re honest with themselves and treat the wash-out with Scotland, which the Scots dominated, as a wake-up call.

If, on the other hand, they bow out early, then Surrey could get four key players back in time for next week’s London derby against Middlesex at Lord’s.

The South Londoners’ decision to sign Spencer Johnson as their second overseas player was clearly driven by the inclusion in England’s World Cup squad of fellow left-arm seamers Sam Curran and Reece Topley.

What’s astonishing, given left-arm fast bowling is regarded a potent weapon in T20, is that neither Curran nor Topley have, as at the time of writing, seen any action.

Let’s not forget that Sam Curran – who had a decent IPL averaging 27 with the bat and 26 with the ball for Punjab Kings – was the Player of the Tournament in England’s victorious T20 World Cup 18 months ago.


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