Surrey right back in the T20 reckoning – and County Championship title can move a step closer to Oval homecoming this weekend

BY MARCUS HOOK

The domestic Twenty20 continues to go from strength to strength, and the arrival of Aaron Finch means that Surrey find themselves right back in the reckoning for a quarter-final place.

Thanks to Finch, who was waylaid by a hastily-arranged T20 series out in Zimbabwe, the defeats at the hands of Middlesex and Kent, to open Surrey’s campaign, already seem like a distant memory.

The 31-year-old Victorian is at the peak of his powers. Fresh from breaking his own world record for the highest individual score in T20 internationals, he has been the catalyst for both of the Oval outfit’s successes since he rode back into Kennington for a third T20 stint as Surrey’s overseas player.

The Blast continues to be played in front of packed houses. The headline in one of the Sunday papers asked: ‘Cricket never had it so good – so why is ECB putting it all at risk?”. That says it all.

There’s always scepticism when counties report that ticket sales are up. But Will Brown, the CEO of Gloucestershire, was quoted as saying: “Our attendances have gone up 61 per cent in four years.” 

The dilemma, of course, is that in two years’ time the nearest venue Gloster fans can travel to see The Hundred will be Cardiff – some 45 miles away.

Surrey’s head coach Michael Di Venuto also made this point on social media: “4 x #T20Blast games for Surrey CCC so far, 3 different venues, 4 sold out crowds! Not sure where all the ‘new’ supporters are going to sit for the proposed 100-ball competition!”

Football may not have come home, but if Surrey impose themselves against second-placed Notts when their County Championship campaign resumes, albeit briefly, this weekend, the faithful will start believing the most coveted prize in county cricket is returning its spiritual home.

Surrey won five of the first six official titles (between 1890 and 1892 as well as in 1894 and 1895). Homage is now paid to all of the club’s championship-winning sides behind Block 1 at the Oval – including those that were awarded it prior to 1890.

Believe it or not, between 1864 and 1889, the champions were decided by the sporting press.

While one ponders that there was a time when cricket writers had such influence, it’s good to see Surrey have left plenty of room for the display to be extended.


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