BY MARCUS HOOK
Surrey’s T20 skipper Gareth Batty conceded Nottinghamshire were worthy winners of this year’s Vitality Blast, and, so, rather than Surrey’s season going from rags to riches, they ended 2020 as unlikely bridesmaids.
After brushing aside Gloucestershire in the first semi-final, the Oval outfit were put into bat by Notts and appeared to be chugging along nicely at 114-2 in the 14th over. But the departure of Laurie Evans for 43 brought on a case of stage fright.
Batty admitted his side’s total of 127-7 in 16 overs, in spite of the efforts of Jason Roy (who hit a 47-ball 66), was 20 runs below par.
“We were probably a few short with the bat,” said Batty. “Notts came out and put us under pressure. With the long batting line-up like they have, we needed to take wickets, but they got a good partnership going. Ben Duckett played very well for them and made it very difficult for us.
“The ideal scenario would have been winning the toss and bowling first. There was a bit of dew, but I don’t make that an excuse. It was brilliant to get the game on. The ball did get a bit slippery and the pitch probably skipped on a little bit. But that’s not why we lost. Notts were just better than us on the evening.
“I’m just sorry we couldn’t get over the line and couldn’t get some silverware and turn the season around. It’s not what we’re about. We want to be about winning trophies. But it wasn’t for a lack of effort.”
The six-wicket defeat, which Notts completed with 14 balls to spare thanks to Duckett’s unbeaten 53, ended a run of nine successive wins in the Vitality Blast for Surrey, and 10 victories in all competitions.
“From where we started out to where we’ve ended up, pretty good,” said Batty. “But it doesn’t make it any easier stood here now having lost a final. It’s pretty gutting to be honest, but, look, I’ll say it again – Notts were brilliant and they deserved to win.
“The boys were quite magnificent throughout the whole of the tournament. We just fell at the final hurdle, which is something we’ll be working on hard all winter to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“What went before was pretty good. There were bits of it that were pretty faultless. But it counts for nothing when you get to a final and lose. It’s not a nice feeling, it’s not a good thing. The positives to take out [of the season as a whole] will be for a later date. We’re all feeling pretty disappointed this evening.
“We didn’t get the runs we required on a pitch that was getting better with a bit of dew on it; which then made it harder for us to take the wickets we needed to put Notts under pressure after the decent start we had with the ball.
“We tried a bit of pace, which didn’t quite work, so we went back to spin – we tried a few things which didn’t quite work. It’s just one of those things. The pitch was pretty good and they played well. I think we have to take our hats off to Notts and say very well played, and back to the drawing board for us. It goes that way. Notts were very good.”
Batty, 42, who will sit down with Surrey’s director of cricket Alec Stewart in the coming weeks to discuss whether he continues as a player-coach, or dons the tracksuit full-time, added: “Spin is thriving at the Oval that is for sure.
“Dan Moriarty’s had a very nice season, as has Will Jacks in this competition and Amar Virdi has done very nicely in red-ball cricket, so we’ll see what the future holds.
“The baton will be passed on to the youngsters at some stage. For all of them, it’s better to be in a final than not. Getting to finals is one thing, winning them is another. But there’s some serious talent in that changing room and some wonderful lads.”
At the end of what has been the most surreal of seasons, Batty added: “I think it should be documented the ECB didn’t a brilliant job getting cricket on. You can sometimes forget about the grassroots and what it means. I hope we can move on next year and thrive again, because it’s been so difficult for everybody.”
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