Surrey crashed to their lowest all-out total in Twenty20 cricket tonight as Kent humbled them with a 48 run victory. It was a sixth consecutive defeat, although tonight there were more reasons for optimism than might be immediately apparent - almost exclusively in the bowling department.
Gareth Batty won the toss and, correctly in my view, elected to bowl first. He chose to bowl spin at both ends, opening with Kartik and Spriegel. It paid off as Northeast skied a catch to a tumbling Kevin Pietersen off the last ball of Spriegel's first over.
Dirk Nannes, preferred to Stuart Meaker, started much more like the Nannes of old, although he offered a touch of width in his second over and was punished. Chris Tremlett immediately settled just short of a length and was rewarded with the thin edge of Billings' bat through to the keeper.
Surrey's bowlers continued to chip away, two wickets fell to Zafar Ansari and he probably could've had a couple more. Tremlett returned late in the innings and bowled a much fuller length but was still difficult to get away. Nannes, in contrast, claimed two wickets with short deliveries. It was a good team bowling effort, Batty continued his good form in four overs which gave the batsmen very little, though he didn't pick up a wicket.
Kent's final total of 136 looked below par, and even with a batting lineup very short of form it should have been a gettable total. Again though, that was not to be as a poor start got worse. Pietersen, a couple of balls after scoring his first boundary of the 2012 Twenty20 campaign, was leg before to a good Mark Davies delivery.
Jason Roy was the next to go as he moved across his stumps and was bowled by Azhar Mahmood. He looks all at sea at the moment, it must be an incredibly tough time for the bloke. I had thought before the upheaval of the last few weeks that Roy needed an arm round the shoulder, that appears now more true than ever. Jason, none of this is your fault, you're in a bad patch of form but you're still a star and will be for a long time to come.
Rory Burns, who looked so composed on Tuesday and was promoted to number four, played a pretty poor shot leaving the side 18-3. Davies fell on the same score edging behind off Mahmood. De Bruyn and Ansari managed to steady the ship somewhat, but it was all too steady as the required rate climbed inexorably. Kent were bowling well and are a far better fielding side than the one we lost to last year.
By the time Ansari was clean bowled by Stevens the game was, in reality, long gone. Kartik was run out without facing and de Bruyn followed soon after, stumped off Adam Riley. Spriegel, Batty, Tremlett and Nannes were never likely to rescue the situation, despite some lusty biffing from the skipper.
The side seems to be at a very low ebb at the moment, which is entirely understandable in the circumstances. Adams has an enormous job on his hands with a side that is in something of a transition in the middle of a season. The batting is very poor at the moment and, in truth, it has been for much of this season. You get the feeling one special performance might turn things around, but so deep is the rut that they are in, its hard to see where that is going to come from. Tomorrow sees the visit of Middlesex to the Oval, a fine fixture to rediscover a bit of form.