Saturday, 23 July 2011

Battered and bruised

Surrey slid inexorably to their third Championship defeat today, and their second this season to Middlesex. In truth it was a match we looked a long way from winning ever since we allowed their tenth wicket pair to accumulate 70 runs on day two.

Had we finished them off properly the second innings heroics of Maynard, who was eighth man out today with 141, and de Bruyn would've given us a substantial total to bowl at. As it was that sparkling hundred merely papered over the cracks of what was another poor performance.

First Maynard then Batty threatened to accelerate the total Middlesex had to chase today beyond 200, but where a couple of batsmen could have just played sensibly to help accumulate the total, there were more rash shots which left the opposition chasing just 189 with most of a day's overs to play with.

Middlesex began their chase extremely watchfully, only 11 runs came from the first eight overs but Sam Robson made excellent use of the hard graft he put in at the start of his innings to anchor his side home. He finished six short of a hundred and did his side proud - at 22 years old he has admirable 'sticky' qualities that our young batsmen just don't seem to have.

Rory Hamilton-Brown inexplicably left it until the 30th over to introduce Stuart Meaker during Middlesex's chase and ended up bowling more deliveries himself than his young pace bowler. Of course Meaker will sometimes go for runs but he can also produce magic spells, the captain's lack of willingness to back the young bowlers is worrying (Matt Dunn was similarly under-bowled second innings against Gloucestershire). Jade Dernbach went wicketless to return match figures of 2-130 while Linley and de Bruyn plugged away gamely, picking up two wickets each.

Only six Championship matches remain, five of which are away from home including trips to Chelmsford and Northampton. You have to say to even be in with a chance of promotion we'll need seven or eight wins in total, which means winning four or five of our remaining fixtures - that just doesn't seem terribly likely. Not impossible of course, but who'd bet on that on the evidence of this game?

Adams has, as ever, a huge job on his hands to get the team up for the remainder of the season, Championship-wise that begins on Wednesday next week against Gloucestershire. Aside from Maynard's knock there is little to take from this game as a positive.

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