Thursday, 9 August 2012

Sorry Surrey slip to innings defeat

Surrey failed to even take the game beyond lunch on day three as Durham ran out easy victors by an innings and 38 runs to jump to seventh place in the Championship table.

The day started badly for Surrey and, broadly speaking, got worse fairly rapidy. The sixth ball of the day, bowled by Chris Rushworth, did for Tim Linley as the nightwatchman fell leg before wicket. The tail did at least manage to hold the Durham charge a bit, the 7th, 8th and 9th wicket partnerships were the three highest in the innings - though this says more about the top order failings than it does about the lower order.

Rory Burns' dogged innings was ended by Graham Onions, his 38 came from 130 balls and was comfortably Surrey's best score of the game. His reputation continues to grow, he seems to be able to find a way of scoring runs and is certainly not one-paced. Spriegel and Batty kept Durham at bay for another 12 overs before the former fell to an excellent Ben Stokes catch off the bowling of Thorp. The innings was ended before the next ten overs were out as Scott Borthwick picked off the tail enders.

This is an embarrassing defeat against fellow strugglers Durham, who leapfrogged us in the table. A poor decision to bat first followed by a poor display with the bat killed any hope of winning this game very early on day one. Thanks to having one of the paltry three points we collected in this game shorn off because of a slow over rate (again), we now sit perilously close to the relegation spots. Worcestershire look as though they may struggle to defend their total against Warwickshire, we have to hope they do as they still have a game in hand over us.

In the post-match interview Chris Adams drew the parallel with this time last season, when we were badly beaten by Kent and had to win our final four games to be sure of promotion. There is some merit in that, insofar as it ain't over till it's over, but the two situations are not the same. Last season we had a high quality spinner in prime form and we were facing Division Two opposition. With the greatest of respect to the clubs involved, facing Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Essex with Pragyan Ojha to do the bowling is not the same as facing Middlesex, Somerset and Nottinghamshire without Pragyan Ojha.

Adams hopes to have Rory Hamilton-Brown to call on in the next match and his return cannot come soon enough. He should step into Zander de Bruyn's shoes, he is averaging just 18 from 20 innings this season. With two of the final four games at the Oval, and against two teams without quality front-line spinners, we have no choice but to prepare raging turners and hope Murali Kartik can justify his pay cheque and win us both of them. Such is the brittle nature of our batting there is an argument for bringing in a short term overseas replacement to shore up that department, but Adams' comment post-match make that seem very unlikely.

It is true that all is not yet completely lost. Lancashire and Worcestershire are not in great form either and although Durham appear to be coming good at just the right time, we only need to finish above two teams to survive. The problem is that like winning, losing can become a habit and with so few in-form batsmen anywhere in the squad, it is hard to see where the next win is coming from. Something dramatic needs to happen, and it needs to start happening next Wednesday against Middlesex.


Toby said...

That was terrible, wasn't it? I still think this team has enough quality to do well in the first division, but for whatever reason (and I'm sure there are plenty to choose from) the performances just haven't been good enough.

Distressingly, I'm finding it difficult to remember a time when Surrey pulled out a good all-round team performance. Even during the four-match promotion run, the level of contribution was far from equal throughout the side.

Nonetheless, if we can just find a few solid performances and scrape our way through the last fixtures without dropping into the bottom two, we can put this season behind us (within reason) and hopefully go into the next with a brighter outlook.

You're absolutely right that those solid performances need to start next week, against a Middlesex side who I'm sure would love to darken our plight further. I'll be at the Oval on the fourth day - if the match makes it that far! - in a rare foray outside the North. With a bit of luck, we'll have something to cheer about then.

GreenJJ said...

Hi Toby

It was indeed pretty terrible. I agree that on paper there is still the quality in this side to compete in division one, certainly we should not be relegation candidates (possibly favourites in some people's books).

It is hard to recall the last comprehensive Championship performance, and the most worrying thing for me is that where before there was a concern with the batting, there is now additionally a concern with the bowling.

We are due a bit of luck, of that I am sure, but we need to back that up with a solid performance, like you say. For your sake I hope the match makes it into the final day, but either way this is without question a must win game. Fingers crossed the weather holds.

Toby said...


I remember reading and listening to people speaking about Surrey as candidates in their predictions for the CC at the start of the season, too! I guess after the sensational end to our previous campaign that wasn't so ridiculous!

To be fair, I think that with the bowling there's only so long that you can go along bailing out the top order, getting the team out of trouble after another poor batting display, before it starts to affect the morale of the attack and the squad in general. I was concerned that the same would happen with England if the form from the UAE was carried through.

Sport (and especially cricket) is a funny business though, and one good performance (possibly given a helping hand by some of that luck you mentioned) might well breed the kind of run we so desperately need. Like you said, fingers crossed!

GreenJJ said...

I must say I was gobsmacked that anyone was tipping us for the title, it seemed far-fetched at the time and it has proven as such. Mid-table in our first season back, given our resources, should not have been out of reach.

Fair point about the bowling - them bailing the batsmen out was never a sustainable model, but also the drop off in form of some, Lewis in particular (and the non-form of Kartik) is alarming.

You're right though, one win could spark a run, we just need to find the right formula - and stick to it!

Rob D. said...

Our dear neighbours might actually hold the key to our fate.

Middlesex's final fixtures are: Surrey (a), Warwickshire (a), Worcestershire (a) and Lancashire (h)....

GreenJJ said...

Great spot Rob, I hadn't realised Middx were playing Worcs and Lancs in their run in. What's the betting they do a number on us and get rolled over by Worcs and Lancs - now that would be galling!

Rob D. said...

They can't afford to do that - particularly when (if) we and Warwickshire beat them.

They could still get sucked into it?

GreenJJ said...

Well if (and its a big if!) we did beat them, and they lost their other three remaining games then yes they may do, but they're too good a team to do that you'd think. I was more lamenting our poor form against them in recent seasons and how much they'd probably like to play a role in sending us back down to div two!

Rob D. said...

Well, yes, I know - I was clutching at straws!

Massive, massive game next week - I see RHB is back for the Durham CB40 and will play vs Middx....?

What with Adams back from the Algarve, what could possibly go wrong?!

GreenJJ said...

Adams' post-match interview seemed to suggest he'd be back, should have a bit of match fitness back in his legs and its been announced on the official site today that he's given up the captaincy. All that would point to him coming back full time.

What could possibly go wrong indeed...!