Surrey CCC frustration as PM’s call leads to empty stands for Bob Willis Trophy clash


The plug was pulled last Friday on plans for 2,500 cricket fans to enjoy the opening two days of Surrey’s Bob Willis Trophy clash with Middlesex at the Oval.

The initiative was also intended to trial Covid-safe technology, but the Prime Minister’s Downing Street press conference ruled, in effect, that all four days would have to be played behind closed doors due to the recent rise in the number of Coronavirus infections.

Surrey County Cricket Club were due to employ technology to keep track of capacity and social distancing, using Bluetooth tracking ‘fobs’ issued to a sample of 200 fans, and had also purchased thermal-imaging cameras, similar to those used at airports.

It was reported the club lost £50,000 as a result of the decision to pause the second weekend of cricket spectator trials.

Surrey County Cricket Club chief executive Richard Gould.

Chief executive Richard Gould said: “The frustration is trying to understand it really, because the plans that we put in place were for a relatively modest number of people, given our capacity.”

Gould added: “This will have caused great disappointment for those due to come to the Kia Oval on Saturday and Sunday. Club staff and players are also very disappointed.

“We will continue to work hard and hope to see supporters back into our ground before the end of the summer.”

The first two days saw Middlesex in the ascendancy. The North Londoners posted 347-6 declared in their first innings, thanks to Nick Gubbins 192. At the halfway stage, Surrey were 189-3 in reply, with Scott Borthwick unbeaten on 73.

Meanwhile, the club has announced the signing of Somerset fast bowler Jamie Overton, who will swap Taunton for the Oval at the end of the season.

The 26-year-old has agreed a three-year deal.

Surrey’s director of cricket Alec Stewart said: “We’re very pleased Jamie will be joining us and I look forward to seeing him perform in a Surrey shirt.

“Jamie is a genuine quick bowler and his pace and bounce gives a real X Factor to his armoury. His style of bowling will be well suited to the pitches at the Oval.

“He has all the necessary attributes to play for England and we will be working hard to help him achieve that goal.”

Overton added: “From the moment that Alec made contact and talked me through the opportunity, I was excited about coming to Surrey. I’m obviously aware of the club’s history and success and these were all major attractions for me in moving from Somerset.

“I needed a fresh challenge to test myself and see how good I can be. I’ve got high aspirations and I’m hoping that being here and working with all involved on and off the pitch I can achieve those dreams.”

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