Vikram Solanki finds positive signs despite Surrey’s struggles in the Bob Willis Trophy


Vikram Solanki is still awaiting his first victory as Surrey’s new head coach.

The South London club suffered another heavy defeat in the Bob Willis Trophy, this time going down by 169 runs to reigning county champions Essex.

But Solanki was encouraged by the performance of his makeshift side, who held out until the final afternoon at Chelmsford on Tuesday.

Simon Harmer sealed the visitors’ fate and is now the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 20.

He followed up the 6-67 he took in Surrey’s first innings with 8-64, giving him a match aggregate of 14-131 – the best ever for Essex against Surrey and the best by an opposition bowler since Ollie Rayner’s 15-118 for Middlesex at the Oval in 2013.

“You’re always going to be on the back foot when you turn up at Chelmsford and lose the toss,” said Solanki. “We knew Simon Harmer was the biggest threat, and it proved to be the case again.

“In parts, we got a lot of things right, but we missed in other parts as well.

“There’s no getting away from the fact we’re none from two, and we’re honest enough to take that on the chin. We’ve been second best in both games and we’ll work extremely hard to rectify matters and put things right for the Hampshire game.”

Surrey are bottom of the table with just six points on the board.

Next up is trip to face Hampshire.

“Between now and when we get to Arundel, we’ve got to assess things and be reasonably smart, because we’ve still got a lot of cricket coming up,” said Solanki.

“In particular, with the bowlers, we’ve got to be mindful of actually keeping them in a healthy state, which is difficult. It’s difficult because we’re down on numbers.”

Surrey’s attack contained just two bowlers with more than 80 first-class wickets under their belts – Rikki Clarke, who was restricted to seven overs in the second innings at Chelmsford due to injury, and Scott Borthwick, who has only taken 13 wickets since swapping Durham for The Oval at the beginning of 2017.

“Rikki played his part in the first innings, and fought through in tough conditions in the second,” said Solanki.

“Everybody is having to deal with the workloads we’re putting our bowlers under. But as far as the young group was concerned, to bowl Essex out for 262 and 261 is a credit to them.

“They all kept working hard. It was hot and Essex have some good batsmen as we know, like Alastair Cook. They kept trying to apply the plans we discussed, but we have to be patient. Sometimes young bowlers miss, but they didn’t miss too often.”

Solanki was also impressed with Will Jacks, who has until now been regarded as a white-ball gunslinger with the bat.

The 21-year-old made 70 and 21, spending a total of five hours at the crease.

“Will played an innings I think he will learn a great deal from, particularly in the second innings,” said Solanki.

“He also played well in the first innings to make 70.

“His partnership with Laurie Evans in the first innings got us into a good position.

“It would have been ideal if that had been extended, but in the second innings Will applied himself in a different fashion to what we know Will Jacks for. But that’s a credit to him.

“It’s exactly the aspect of his game he needs to work on – to control his tempo. He did that very well. He made good decisions and he was unfortunate to get out the way he did.”

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