IT HASN'T BEEN A BAD SUMMER… by Marcus
It hasn't been a bad summer weather-wise. But if
you have been following Surrey's fortunes closely, it has been
another season to forget. Unfortunately for Chris Adams, the Oval
faithful tend to judge each campaign by where Surrey finish in the
County Championship. The Brown Caps have never ended a summer
propping up the table. However, the defeat at Worcester now makes
that a genuine possibility. The timing of the last edition of Oval
World wasn't exactly ideal - Surrey had just lost by an innings to
Leicestershire. This edition is no different. At Guildford, I really
felt the team had put the Lord's debacle behind them, especially
after setting a new record in 40-over cricket by racking up 386-3
against Glamorgan. But, in keeping with the campaign as a whole, a
week of cheer was immediately followed by a week of woe.
As venues go, New Road has rarely been kind to the
Oval outfit. Surrey have only enjoyed four championship wins there
in 29 trips. So, despite the upheaval Worcestershire had been going
through (with their captain resigning and chief executive giving
notice that he will be off in October), perhaps we shouldn't have
expected too much to come from the visit. But what every fan expects
is that even if their team loses, they won't go down without a
fight. The haste with which the match was concluded on the fourth
morning was entirely down to Surrey's unseemly indifference.
Although the match coincided with the Oval Test, it will not have
gone unnoticed back in SE11. The next members' forum, on September
8, could be a bit spicy.
But before we throw the baby out with the bath
water, let's not forget that seven members of the side that played
at Guildford and New Road are under twenty-four years of age. As
Alan Hansen famously said: "You win nothing with kids." By
and large, of course, he is right. So, as with all infants, we can't
expect them to run before they can talk - or if they do run that it
won't be long before they fall over.
We have punched above our weight in one-day
cricket, in which all four of Chris Adams's winter signings - Batty,
Davies, Hamilton-Brown and Tremlett - have excelled. If Adams can
attract Eoin Morgan and Ryan Sidebottom to the Oval next off-season,
Surrey will be a real force to be reckoned with in both the CB40 and
Putting together a side capable of performing
consistently in the championship remains a work in progress. It's
interesting that Surrey are being linked, once again, with Martin
van Jaarsveld. Apart from when Rory Hamilton-Brown loses the toss -
he has lost four in the championship this year and Surrey have gone
on to suffer defeats in all four contests - the reason why the Brown
Caps are lacking in competitiveness is mainly down to the batting.
Worryingly, they have only made 300-plus totals in two out of their
last six four-day matches. At Lord's they came close to being bowled
out twice for less than 200 for the first time in ten years.
If Tremlett, Dernbach, Nel and Meaker were all fit
at the same time, it is debatable whether Gareth Batty would warrant
a place in the four-day team. It simply underlines my view that,
next season, Surrey's overseas player has to be a quality spinner.
If Saeed Ajmal is interested in playing county cricket, he did his
chances no harm at all during the Oval Test.
Talking of overseas players, those of us who
concluded that the signing of Andrew Symonds was a complete waste of
time - not in the Shoaib Akhtar class of embarrassing, which is
something to be thankful for - what about Dwayne Bravo's solitary
appearance for Essex? It was widely reported that the West Indian
was paid £10,000 for making five with the bat and conceding 1-46
off his eight overs in the Eagles' FPt20 semi-final loss to
Hampshire - and Essex's chairman Nigel Hilliard is often one of the
first to moan that the smaller clubs are being priced out of the
market for top players.
As was the case last year, six of the eight T20
quarter-finalists were teams in Division One of the County
Championship. This time, all four of the counties who made finals
day were teams in the top flight - a message for anyone who says
that Twenty20 is a lottery.