It's difficult to know what to say after a game like that. You will see from my previous blog that we once were in a good position in this match, we'd knocked over Kent for what seemed like a below par 266 and already had 50 in the bank for the loss of no wicket. Thereafter, the numbers are staggering.
Having played out 12 overs on day one for 50 runs and no wicket, Surrey only batted a further 60 overs in the entire match, losing 20 wickets for 181 runs. Abject does not even begin to describe it. I accept that conditions weren't ideal but such was the brevity of both our innings, Kent cannot have had markedly dissimilar conditions to deal with and they came out on top by a margin of 266 runs - not a small victory by any standards.
So, I thought, if I was finding it hard to know what to say, maybe Chris Adams will do better, ladies and gentlemen I give you exhibit A:
Right then, what do we have: "there were some positives to take from the game." Check. "they're disappointed, I'm disappointed." Check. "we must move on, we can't dwell on defeats." Check. "we need to come back with a better plan next time." Check.
Anything about how disappointing performances like these must be for the members? About how frustrating it must be for the supporters to watch the team be crushed by a side we should at least be competing with, and probably beating? No, not a bit of it - am I just being naive? Some of the performances this year, this game and both innings against Middlesex at Lord's spring most immediately to mind have exposed a team with no shortage of ability but who at times seem to have lack of fight, apparently a lack of willing to knuckle down and play the situation. In Kent's first innings their batsman played out more balls than ours did in both innings. Just for good measure, the same applies to Kent's second innings as well. In fact, Rob Key on his own played out 33 more deliveries than our entire side managed in the second innings.
The match report on Cricinfo is a (almost exclusively) humiliating litany of milestones and records:
- Darren Stevens took a career best 7-21 in the first innings
- Stevens backed that up with 4-49 in the second innings to finish with his first ever 10 wicket haul.
- James Tredwell recorded season's-best figures of 5-35 in the second innings.
- In carrying his bat for the first time in four years Rob Key scored his 20th century for Kent at the St. Lawrence ground.
- Surrey capitulated inside two hours on the third day for 104, our lowest Championship total in a decade.
- To his enormous credit, Tim Linley bagged his 50th wicket of the season, a lone bright spot and incredibly the first Surrey batsman to achieve that feat in five seasons.
Of course we all recognise that this is a team in transition, a team full of youngsters bursting with promise but short on experience. But the most frustrating thing about defeats like this is that it's not because we're not good enough, we are good enough and at times this season we have shown that but in the Championship nowhere near often enough. How many times will we fall back on the same old excuse of not having experience and pledging to "go away and come back with a better plan next time"? You have to now concede that promotion hopes look to be behind us for yet another year. If Derbyshire knock off the remaining 80 runs they need to beat Gloucestershire we will drop to fifth and we're only 15 points from dropping behind Glamorgan to 7th place. This cannot be allowed to happen.
Four games remain and as Adams says in the above video, we need to win at least three and probably four to maintain any promotion hopes - that would be an unprecedented (but not unwelcome!) run of form. More realistically we need to give the table a veneer of respectability from Surrey's perspective, and give the members something to be proud of in four day cricket.