Saturday, 24 September 2011

Season Review: The 'allrounders'

And finally, the allrounders get their turn, here follows an appraisal of how Surrey's crop of bowling-batsmen and batting-bowlers did in 2011.  And there's a fair few of them, only four players slotted into this category last year, in 2011 there are six.

Gareth Batty
LVCC: 36 wkts @ 33 & 532 runs @ 26, CB40: 13 wkts @ 23 & 29 runs @ 7, T20: 8 wkts @ 33 & 24 runs @ 8

As those number show, Batty was only to be considered an allrounder in Championship cricket, but his importance to the side is without question.  When you watch a side with Gareth Batty in it, there's no doubt about who is the beating heart of the side, the one who peps everyone up when heads start to drop (it doesn't necessarily always work).  He must be an intensely irritating person to play against, he's always buzzing around getting in everyone's ears, and that's part of what makes him important.  That's not to say his cricketing abilities are negligible, in both the CB40 and the Championship his contributions were hugely important.  His strike rate and economy were an improvement on last year and in the CB40 he was the most economical bowler of all, giving away just 4.7 runs an over.  His value was never more apparent than during his spell of 2-35 in the final.  He also had a canny knack of breaking partnerships, and coming up with runs when the team needed him most, his 49 in the first innings against Essex is a great example.  His county cap during the final game at the Oval was richly deserved.

Matt Spriegel
CB40: 11 wkts @ 27 & 424 runs @ 53, T20: 16 runs @ 5

Spriegel: Crucial
Spriegel was perhaps unlucky to miss out completely on Championship cricket in 2011 - and I hope rumours that he will soon sign a new deal at Surrey prove correct - but he has become a key cog in our 40 over side.  He has not missed a game over the past two seasons, in that time he's scored almost 700 runs at an average of 46, and a strike rate better than 100, only Davies and Hamilton-Brown have scored more.  His batting was more accomplished this season, and more powerful too - his 82 against Scotland was spectacular and his 86 against Durham nearly shepherded us home to an unlikely victory.  In a side packed with look-at-me players, Spriegel has become a reliable and high-class presence in the middle order.  He also captained the Second XI from time to time and should Hamilton-Brown decide the job was not for him, the coach could do a lot worse than look in Spriegel's direction.

Chris Schofield
LVCC: 5 wkts @ 46 & 179 runs @ 59, CB40: 17 wkts @ 23 & 246 runs @ 35, T20: 3 wkts @ 61 & 37 runs @ 18

Schofield: Gradual improvement
After distinctly average performances in the Championship, a poor T20 campaign and three wickets and only 88 runs in his first 7 CB40 games, Chris Schofield's future at Surrey looked likely to end as the curtain fell on the 2011 season.  However, Adams kept faith and in the final month of the season Schofield repaid him in spades.  He scored 158 runs at an average of 31 in a 'floating' role in the CB40, and took 13 wickets at 14 apiece in the last six matches.  He can be a slow starter as a batsman so the decision to push him up the order as a pinch-hitter was a gamble, but once he does get going he hits the ball in unusual areas and is tough to tie down, largely it worked.  His bowling wasn't at its best this year but he remained a useful option for Hamilton-Brown to turn to.  I think his opportunities in the Championship will be limited again next year and it may come down to whether he wants to remain at the club when he's only likely to play the one day matches.

Zafar Ansari
LVCC: 6 wkts @ 26 & 43 runs @ 7, CB40: 4 wkts @ 42 & 47 runs @ 23, T20: 4 wkts @ 55 & 108 runs @ 36

I wrote at the start of the season that I was particularly interested to see the progress of Ansari after his impressive debut against Sussex in the CB40.  I couldn't have hoped that he'd be as good as he was though, and the fact that he'll be missing from the early part of the season to continue his studies at Cambridge is a real shame (not for him, obviously).  He only played three Championship games but if there was a more vital wicket this season than Ansari's wicket of Rob Key as he was ushering Kent towards victory, I can't recall it. He saved his most impressive performances for the Twenty20 during which he was the second most economical bowler and played some very important knocks with the bat - only Davies scored his runs faster. His returns in the CB40 weren't so good but his bowling in the final confirmed what the T20s hinted at - he has the coolest of cool heads, hugely impressive for a 19 year old.  He's also one of the best boundary fielders around.  Another at the club from whom there is so much more to come in the coming years.

Chris Jordan
LVCC: 11 wkts @ 48 & 228 runs @ 28, CB40: 1 wkt @ 92

A return to cricket having lost a full year to injury was always going to be tough, and so it proved for Jordan.  Another, along with Schofield, who redeemed himself with a couple of performances towards the end of the year, but he still doesn't look like he's back to his 2008 vintage.  There was talk that Jordan was heading away from Surrey but I hope not given how much the club have invested in him and his recovery.  A fully fit and firing Chris Jordan would be an invaluable asset - fast bowling (if not the 90mph he once was) and hard hitting players are like gold dust.  His 160 runs and four second innings wickets against Essex in the Championship were instrumental to us winning at Chelmsford.  His bowling in the CB40, when he played, was dire though - he bowled just 10 overs all season in that format but went for nearly 100 runs and only collected a single scalp.  He may also find his opportunities limited in 2012 but I hope he has another go at cracking the Surrey nut.

The Other

Just a solitary performance for promising allrounder Tom Jewell this season resulting in a single wicket and six runs in the win over Derbyshire in May.  He doesn't look as quick as Jordan or as powerful with the bat but could yet end up a more reliable option.  Hard to see where he fits into a side on a regular basis in 2012 though.


miltonkeynesman said...

Thanks for an interesting summation of the season. An excellent point that over the season a lot of little things added up - Ansari's dismissal of Key, Dunn's efforts at Derby (didnt he come in as cover for a Test call up ?), Jordan's runs at Essex. All three were by no means regulars and yet......

I assume that plans for 2012 are already forming. I hope Ramprakash stays for another year and that guys like Ansari and Spriegel remain even if they may be CB40 and T20 players and not immediate CC regulars. Please no more Murtagh situations.

One further point. I got the impression that earlier in the year in the CC we were prone to missing chances particularly in the slips. Difficult to gauge as some reports (particularly on the official Surrey CCC website) dont tend to mention these. However towards the end of the season I sensed we were a lot more consistent ?? The old maxim of "catches win matches" still applies and the confidence of catching and winning tends to lead to more catching and winning if you follow. Did you see any trends ? One of the great memories of my youth is that we had great close catchers from Lock, Stewart, Edwards, Barrington, Roope etc - and that was mainly gleaned from following them via the Daily Telegraph from deepest Dorset !!

Anyway our one day fielding seemed pretty good and guys like Roy and Ansari contribute a lot in the outfield just as Davies and Batty do closer in.

GreenJJ said...

Hi MKman

Firstly, thanks for all your comments - genuinely appreciate the feedback!

Like you I can't say for sure, I'm never able to watch or even listen to every moment of the days, but it did seem that our catching improved vastly through the season, especially in the Championship, and it really is out of sigh compared to two or three years ago. In the limited overs I am in no doubt that we are in the two or three best fielding sides in the country, the difference between us and, say Essex or Kent was so marked when we played them. Where we (normally) saved 10-15 runs in the field they would rountinely give away the same amount.

Like you say a lot of it is confidence in catching - something that is overlooked compared to confidence in bowling or batting I think so when the catches started to go to hand towards the end of the season we just got on a roll.

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