A week is a long time in cricket. This time seven days ago we were merely a division two side in the final of the CB40, today we are a division one side and CB40 champions.
After the dark days of 2008 and 2009 I, and many other Surrey fans I'm sure, wondered how long it would be before we got back to winning ways. Well now we have, and in fine style too. The best part of it all is that this team is a long, long way from reaching its peak.
Chris Adams sprung something of a surprise before the start of play by naming Zafar Ansari ahead of either of the seam bowling options, leaving us with five spin bowling options on a ground with pretty short square boundaries. When Somerset, with their immensely powerful batting lineup won the toss and chose to bat I feared the worst.
But I was a fool to do so. Has Adams not done enough this season to shut me up moaning about too many allrounders? Matthew Spriegel opened the bowling from the nursery end and kept the Somerset openers largely quiet before capturing the big fish, Trescothick, stumped in the fifth over. Thereafter it was a steady stream of wickets, with every bowler chipping in and Somerset failing to forge a partnership north of 45.
Everyone contributed but special praise should be reserved for two bowlers, one always in the limelight, one rarely. Jade Dernbach bowled beautifully utilising his sharp bouncer well and not over-doing the slower ball. His return of 4-30 was just reward and he ends the campaign as the leading wicket taker in the country with 23 at 14 apiece. The other was Gareth Batty who never allowed the batsmen to get a hold of him and picked up 2-35. His 13 wickets this season is not spectacular, but his economy rate of 4.7 is excellent - the captain knows he can trust him to stem the flow of runs.
Also more than worthy of mention is the innings of Somerset's Jos Buttler. He played with a maturity far beyond his 21 years for 86 off just 72 balls. He will be a big part of England's future limited overs plans without a doubt.
With rain threatening, Surrey's openers were uncharacteristically quiet, rightly seeing that keeping wickets in hand was key with Duckworth/Lewis likely to come into the equation. It was particularly frustrating then that the first two wickets should go down to two poor shots. All the while Hamilton-Brown was at the other end playing a fine captain's knock, but in between rain breaks it did look as though Somerset could still somehow force a win.
When the longest of the rain showers subsided Surrey required a revised 186 runs from 30 overs. Schofield was again sent up the order after Maynard was caught behind off Arul Suppiah, and he was a fine foil to Hamilton-Brown as they put on 58 - the only fifty partnership in the entire match - in just over nine overs. He and Hamilton-Brown fell in quick succession though, the captain caught short by an excellent throw from Buttler as he was backing up - his outstanding knock of 78 from 62 balls appeared to have broken the back of the innings though.
With five wickets down and 39 runs still needed, there were plenty of nerves still about. Apparently not in the middle though. While de Bruyn and Spriegel were hardly fluent, they set about the task of winning the match with aplomb. In the end, as Spriegel cut the winning runs to third man it was a fairly comfortable win. It was somehow appropriate that it was Spriegel who hit the winning runs, with over 400 runs in the middle order (not to mention 11 wickets) this year his contribution has been vital. I hope his long term future lies at Surrey.
And that was that. A week which began promising much, ended having delivered everything. Rory Hamilton-Brown and his tightly-knit group of players had their hands on a major domestic trophy just days after securing promotion back to the big time. This team is as talented as any other in the country, maybe more so, and they have so much time still to develop. I am immensely proud of my team today, Hamilton-Brown, Chris Adams and Co., take a bow and have a few drinks, you have earned it.
Ravi Ashwin’s Season
1 hour ago