Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Roy plays lone hand as Surrey capitulate again

Barring a few notable exceptions, this has not been a vintage season for Surrey's batsmen and the innings today at the Oval did nothing to change that. Middlesex closed 99 for 1, just 45 runs behind having skittled the home side for just 144.

On a cloudy and humid day Gareth Batty won yet another toss and for the second consecutive game elected to bat first. The rationale being that this pitch has been prepared specifically with the spinners in mind, so it was a case of avoiding batting last at all costs. Jon Lewis, in poor form with the ball, Chris Jordan and Spriegel were all left on the sidelines.

Without a frontline spinner in their side Middlesex needed a fine performance from their bowlers, and boy did they get one. Rory Burns, in such good form of late, was the first to go in the third over off the bowling of Murtagh. Ansari was gone soon after for just 10 which left Surrey 28-2 as the players left the field for a rain break. A recovery was needed but did not materialise as three more wickets fell before the 50 run mark had been breached. Zander de Bruyn failed with the bat again, scoring his third duck in his last six innings during which time he's scored just 25 runs all told.

The returning Hamilton-Brown scored just two before he was clean bowled by Murtagh and Harinath was soon leg before to Roland-Jones. The 24 year old Middlesex (but one-time Surrey Second XI) bowler has somehow avoided detection by the England Lions set up but he has 110 first class wickets from 28 games at a cost of just 21 apiece. Ironically after such a fine bowling performance he may be replaced by Steve Finn if Finn is not selected for England tomorrow.

Jason Roy plugged away, thrice scoring back-to-back boundaries and added 32 with Davies and 41 with Kartik but the innings was done and dusted soon after he had passed 50. He took a single from the second ball of the 45th over and Murtagh made him pay, taking wickets with consecutive balls to bring an end to the Surrey proceedings and take him past 50 Championship wickets for the season. Roy has quietly been getting on with things of late, while most others have been losing their heads, he's kept his, averaging 46 in the last four games.

All told it was another poor effort with the bat. Only three counties have scored fewer batting bonus points than us this season and it may end up costing us dear.

Middlesex had more than 30 overs to face before the close of play with Robson and Rogers delivering the kind of steady start which has been largely absent for Surrey. Neither Dernbach nor Linley, both bowling straight and looking for swing, were able to make a breakthrough with the new ball (though Linley did have a loud LBW shout against Rogers in his first over - but the dreaded no-ball returned to haunt Surrey). In truth Linley, who bowled a spell of six overs for 28 runs, offered little threat to the batsmen. The players will have taken some small solace from having gotten rid of Rogers late in the day, bowled by a Dernbach yorker.

For the umpteenth time this season it seems, Surrey face an uphill struggle to save the game. There was turn for Kartik late in the day but despite having ten overs in which to weave his magic he ended the day without a wicket. One has to assume that spin will play an increasing part in the drama to unfold over the next few days, and it is thanks to Middlesex's shortcomings in that department that we're not completely dead and buried.

We've handed all the cards to our opponents yet again. Time and again the same mistakes are being made. Chris Adams claims that the plans he puts in place are great, they just aren't put in to practice on the field. That's all well and good but what about the preparation of the players, the coaching? Someone should take responsibility for the continuing shortfalls in performance. I fail to see how that someone can be anyone other than the Cricket Manager. We are not yet completely out of this game, there's much cricket to be played, but we haven't half made this one difficult for ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Yes, at some point somebody has to take responsibility for the season long state of the batting.

Coaching is the thing that most concerns me. It feels like something has to be going wrong with that. Some batsmen seem to making identical errors in every match.

GreenJJ said...

That is precisely my concern, for a long time, longer than just this season, the same mistakes seem to be made over and over again. Ok, we can expect players' form to dip in and out over time, but at some point we have to ask the question, WHY are so many players completely bereft of any kind of batting form?

Dave from Pennsylvania said...

In two words...consistently inconsistent. And in recent weeks, almost totally disorganized. Everything seems out of balance right now; batting, bowling, squad selection.

Granted this season has thrown quite a number of unforeseen and unfortunate events into the mix which no doubt have had a noted, if not profound, effect on things.

That being said, Surrey have a lot of looking within to do these final few weeks and a whole lot more over the winter. The back-to-back collapses at Durham painted a pretty clear picture of a side that is in serious need of changes on many fronts.

I won't say they look like a team that has given up just yet....just yet.