BY MARCUS HOOK
Will Jacks reckons having Sam Curran, Tom Curran and Jason Roy available for the start of the Vitality Blast campaign has been a boost for Surrey – not that they needed much of a one based on last year’s T20.
The South Londoners put together a run of nine successive victories before falling at the final hurdle to finish runners-up in the previous campaign.
Jacks was ranked the best player in last year’s Blast with 309 runs and 13 wickets.
He said: “One thing we haven’t done in the past is start tournaments well, so to have those guys was massive for our confidence. Hopefully getting those wins means we won’t find ourselves in a tough position later when they’re not there.
“On paper we’re a very good team, but that’s all it is. Last year, without the England guys, you would probably say that’s the weakest team we’ve had on paper in the last few years, but we performed. No matter who is in the team, you have to perform and do the right things.”
Jacks was quick out of the blocks, smashing 70 off just 24 balls to earn himself the man of the match award in Surrey’s opening game victory, by 54 runs, against Middlesex at Lord’s.
Needing a mere 15 deliveries to bring up his fifty, Jacks broke the Surrey record for the fastest half-century in T20 cricket, held by Aaron Finch – who cracked a 16-baller against Middlesex in 2018 – and, before him, Steven Davies (18 balls), against Hampshire in 2010.
One of Jacks’ five sixes disappeared out of the ground.
“When I hit it on to the Grandstand roof I knew it was big and to see it go over – it’s one to remember,” said the 22-year-old. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better in terms of a start to the competition.
“I played as I always do, looking to be aggressive and take the game to the bowlers. A couple of things came off and then I just went with the flow.
“It was as close to a perfect team performance as you can get. Everything we talked about before the game we executed well. We felt there were a couple of things we could improve, but we were pretty happy.
“Middlesex got off to a good start when they batted, particularly in the powerplay. But there were a couple of nice bits of fielding from TC [Tom Curran], which he was really proud of.
“It was a tough pitch to bowl on, with a tiny boundary on one side. We fought back well and bowled really well the last 10 overs. In the field, it was the best I’ve seen from us for a few years.
“It’s been a slow start to the season for me, so I was just looking forward to getting some first team cricket and try and back-up what I did last year’s T20, as well as us as a team.
“Last year was the first year since I’ve been involved where there was a set gameplan. We didn’t see any reason why we should change that this year.
“It’s pretty much who’s going to bowl to which batsmen and, from a batter’s perspective, which bowlers you’ll be trying to target.
“With the bat my aim is just to be consistent. It’s something I have tried to do for the last few years and I’m gradually getting there.
“With the ball it’s all about trying to bowl strong balls in an area where they can hit it to the two fielders you’ve got on the fence.
“Your options are quite limited as a spinner, but the most important thing is just hitting a good length, so that they can’t hit you down the ground.”
Notts Outlaws beat Surrey by six wickets to be crowned T20 Blast champions for a second time in 2020.
“We were flying and there was a bit of an aura around the group where we were just extremely confident,” said Jacks. “And when we got into a bad situation there wasn’t any panic. We knew what we needed to do and it was all about execution.
“Realistically, we know we’re not going to do the same again, and win nine games in a row, but we’ll be trying our best to replicate what we produced last year. If we come close to that we’ll be in a pretty good position.
With a number of strings to his bow, Jacks has been touted as a pick for this winter’s T20 World Cup. He said:“My bowling is something I’m developing more, but the England white-ball squad is incredibly difficult to get into.
“There’s a couple of spots there that might be available, but I’m not thinking about that. I just want to perform for Surrey, replicate what I did last year and win games for us.”
SURREY v HAMPSHIRE
Roy, Jacks, Evans, Pope, S Curran, Overton, Clark, T Curran, Smith (wk), Batty (capt), Moriarty.
Vince (capt), Short, Alsop, Weatherley, McManus (wk), Dawson, Fuller, Holland, Wood, Crane, Wheal.
Laurie Evans (Surrey) – whose T20 batting average against Hampshire is an impressive 99.50. With Surrey’s internationals coming and going, he will be a key figure further down the line in this summer’s Vitality Blast.
Mason Crane (Hampshire) – like Surrey, Hampshire’s T20 philosophy is spin to win and the 24-year-old leggie has been the pick of Hampshire’s attack in the Blast. Supported by left-arm twirler Liam Dawson, Crane’s five wickets have come at just 17.80 apiece.
In contrast to Surrey’s unbeaten start to the Blast, Hampshire managed just one victory in their first three – a 13-run success against Essex at Chelmsford. Surrey have won six out of their last seven T20 meetings with Hampshire; also, nine of the last 11 between the two have gone to the side batting second.
Will Jacks’ half century in Surrey’s T20 opener against Middlesex came off just 15 balls, making it the joint third fastest in domestic T20 cricket. Only Marcus Trescothick’s 13-baller for Somerset v Hampshire in 2010 and Gerard Brophy’s for Yorkshire v Derbyshire (in 14 deliveries) in 2006 have been quicker.
Sam Curran – his unbeaten 72 against Somerset, a new T20 career best with the bat. He is also Surrey’s leading wicket-taker three games in.
Tom Curran’s brilliant one-handed catch, to see the back of Middlesex’s Stevie Eskinazi, to help get Surrey’s T20 campaign off to a winning start at Lord’s.
June 18: Surrey v Hampshire at the Kia Oval (Vitality Blast)
June 21: Surrey v Essex at the Kia Oval (Vitality Blast)
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