Monday, 29 August 2011

It had to happen eventually...

You can't win 'em all, and today Surrey lost their first CB40 game of 2011 despite a spirited effort with the bat.

Hamilton-Brown lost an important toss and from the word go Surrey were chasing the ball around. The captain himself elected to open the bowling again and Phil Mustard proceeded to sweep him around at will, 13 runs were on the board with the game only six balls old. Mustard didn't let up there either as Chris Jordan was carted about at ease. Jordan's first ball was an impressive yorker but that was almost where the good bowling ended, he provided the batsmen with too much width and it was boundaries galore for Durham's opening batsmen.

When Matthew Spriegel was introduced for the seventh over 71 runs were already on the board it was a relief to see him have Callum Thorp stumped off a wide. Stuart Meaker took a good catch an over later to send Mustard back to the dressing room but he'd already feasted on some very average bowling to reach 66 off just 31 balls.

The Durham innings was anchored by an impressive 96 from Paul Collingwood who rarely seemed to take any risks at all. Only two Surrey bowlers (incidentally the sixth and seventh bowlers to be used in the innings) finished with economy rates below 8 and they weren't helped by some uncharacteristically shoddy fielding. 17 runs were given away in wides and no balls and probably 20 more were given away through mis-fields.

The Durham total of 325 looked well out of reach even if the pitch was looking decidedly docile. Graham Onions, who was a cut-above all day, gave them an excellent start having Steven Davies caught off a top edge in the first over and it all looked like it would be well beyond Surrey. Jason Roy scored just five and Hamilton-Brown was involved in another run out, this time he was the man who had to go as he didn't dive to make his ground.

However first Tom Maynard and then Chris Schofield and Matthew Spriegel had other ideas. Maynard played an excellent innings of 56 from just 40 balls before he was bowled by Callum Thorp. And then Schofield - reverting to his more usual number spot in the order combined superbly with Spriegel in a counter-attacking partnership of 98, both finding the boundary regularly. The batting powerplay was delayed and had it been taken with the two of them firing, who knows what might have happened. As it was, Schofield, who had feasted on the spin of Blackwell and Breese, found life tougher against the quicker bowlers as Claydon sent a ball across him and he was caught easily by Collingwood.

Spriegel kept at his task gamely, peppering the boundaries but first Batty, who criminally failed to run his bat in, was run out and then Chris Jordan completed a dreadful day at the office with a first ball duck. When Spriegel was out bowled off his pads by Claydon the game really was up, Surrey ended 36 runs short but without Spriegel things would have been far worse.

So the unbeaten run ends and we now know our semi-final opponents - Sussex will come to the Oval on Sunday. That will be an incredibly tough ask and Chris Adams has some real thinking to do. Jordan's terrible performance today effectively rules him out of such a crucial game but with Schofield and Spriegel in such good form with the bat that might not be such a headache. Will he persist with Meaker or go back to Linley? Which of Ojha or Arafat should play? Is Chris Tremlett going to be available after injury?

Despite winning 10 of 11 group games, Adams probably still does not know his best side. Wholesale changes are unlikely ahead of Sunday and the same basic ingredients will probably comprise the side, but the precise make-up may be tinkered with. The next six days are easily Adams' biggest test as coach - a must-win Championship game against Northamptonshire starting on Wednesday followed by a CB40 semi-final on Sunday. Here's hoping they can rise to the challenge.

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