Chris Adams' brave selection of 19 year old Zafar Ansari paid off in impressive style tonight as the youngster put in an impressive, man-of-the-match-winning performance against a very strong Essex side tonight. The sooner he graduates from Cambridge University, the better.
Rory Hamilton-Brown did the right thing after winning the toss, he chose to bat first. The surface looked a very good one, but not long after the innings started it began to look decidedly less good. It is now three innings out of four that the Hamilton-Brown/Davies partnership has failed to last even beyond the first over - it would appear we don't even have a limited overs opening partnership any longer.
Davies was the first to go tonight, and Hamilton-Brown followed soon after to a very ugly shot, the ball seemed to stop in the surface. Roy and Maynard put on a good 40 partnership before Roy too was undone by the surface. Maynard then combined with de Bruyn for a partnership which threatened to muster a big total, de Bruyn was playing the ball late and Maynard was playing sensibly.
However the loss of three wickets inside an over seemed to derail the innings completely, before Zafar Ansari almost single-handedly dragged the total to 154. The target on that surface was by no means easy, but for a batting lineup such as Essex's it was very gettable.
Yasir Arafat began the bowling in the worst possible way, five wides down the leg side, but next ball he had Shah caught at third man. Thereafter it was an efficient if not exceptional bowling display. What was exceptional was the fielding, the area in which we vastly out-performed Essex tonight. We caught well and three run-outs is no accident, even if the opposition did themselves no favours at all.
Nannes, Dernbach, Arafat and de Bruyn all did a good job with the ball but it was Ansari's cool demeanour which stole the hour. Having finished the batting with a fine six, he bowled four overs for just 24 runs. He was a touch on the short side, but no one really got hold of his bowling.
Tonight was a Surrey win without any of the big guns really hitting their straps, which is encouraging. It felt at the end of our innings like we were perhaps 20 runs short, but when a side with the batting of Essex can only post 111 all out, I can't really complain. There is still room for Ramprakash to come in for the horribly out-of-form Wilson, but that compromises the fielding unit somewhat, so all that is missing is really one of our top three going on to get a big score.
We showed a small percentage of the enormous potential of this side tonight, let's make this the starting point for something much bigger and much better.