Wednesday, 19 September 2012

2012 review: the batsmen

After yesterday's look back at Surrey's bowling in 2012 today I'm casting an eye back over our batting over the past six months. I never thought I'd have to write a review of one of our batsmen posthumously and it still somehow doesn't seem real that I'm having to. Still, for what its worth here are my thoughts (in order of Championship batting average).

Kevin Pietersen
CC: 572 runs @ 95. CB40: 54 runs @ 27. T20: 93 runs @ 23.
If you'd have offered me Kevin Pietersen for four Championship fixtures and a handful of limited overs games at the start of 2012 I'd have bitten your arm off. Thanks to his contretemps with England he played an awful lot more than he should have, and it was to Surrey's considerable advantage. No one bettered his two Championship hundreds this year and indeed he ended the season as fourth highest scorer despite playing in only a quarter of the fixtures. Four scores of 50 or more in seven innings says it all. I'm bored to death of the ongoing KP-England saga so all I'll say is that whenever I saw him for us he looked engaged in the field and particularly in the T20s he was regularly a part of Batty's brains trust. If he really is out in the cold with England we should do all we can to retain him for 2013, there's no better batsman in English cricket.

Gary Wilson
CC: 182 runs @ 60. CB40: 60 runs @ 16. T20: 182 runs @ 60.
Speculation continues as to whether or not Wilson will be back with Surrey in 2012 but I for one would be sad to see him go. Having come full circle on him, I used to think he was hopeless, I know think he can play a big role in our middle order. However his ongoing commitments with Ireland mean that he's rarely available. I doubt there's another of the top echelon of Surrey's batsmen who played fewer than his 16 fixtures all told this season. I sincerely believe that given a run in the side he would score plenty of runs.

Rory Burns
CC: 640 runs @ 42. CB40: 35 runs @ 17. T20: 41 runs @ 13
The find of the season without question. He played in Surrey's first First Class fixture of 2012 but wouldn't have expected to end the season as first choice opening batsman, yet he's cemented his position at the top of the order for the foreseeable future. In our biggest problem area over the last few years we now have a genuine solution. Five scores of 50 or more in 15 innings, including a maiden hundred to help us win against Middlesex represent a magnificent effort. A tendency to get out bowled probably belies a lack of experience which is hardly surprising, but he undoubtedly has a massive future, hopefully all of it at Surrey.

Tom Maynard
CC: 525 runs @ 40. CB40: 118 runs @ 39. T20: 7 runs.
What to say of the young man that hasn't already been said? Along with his good mate Hamilton-Brown he gave respectability to Surrey's batting early in the season. He was an instant success when he signed in 2011 and he looked set to continue that, the sky really was the limit for him. He was always a dangerous player once he was in, his average once he'd passed 20 was an impressive 77, and that was no fluke, in 2011 the same average was 74. It is not an understatement to refer to his passing as a tragedy for cricket, I am in no doubt whatsoever that he would've scored a million runs for Surrey in the future, and probably England too. He will be greatly missed by all.

Rory Hamilton-Brown
CC: 555 runs @ 37. CB40: 204 runs @ 25. T20: 23 runs @ 5
Maynard's death hit everyone at Surrey very hard, but no one more so than his housemate and close friend. Having played all of Surrey's Championship games before June 18th, scoring 551 runs in the process, he played just two games thereafter. Talk of him now possibly moving on is enormously disappointing. Never mind the fact that a Division One rival will be gaining a batsman of massive potential, he is one of our own. He had started to look the real deal, the 70 not out from 161 balls against Somerset at the Oval being a prime example. It appeared he was making up for lost time, that is, time lost due to the extra pressure of being skipper. Then his, and to a lesser degree the whole club's, world was flipped upside down. Having requested permission to talk to other clubs it is hard to see a situation now where Rory will play for us again. I only hope I'm wrong.

Arun Harinath
CC: 368 runs @ 37
When Harinath made his Surrey debut at the end of the 2009 season, replacing an injured Ramprakash (who apparently thought very highly of him) I watched him compile a second innings 44 from 90 deliveries against a good Gloucestershire attack. He didn't have all the shots in the book but he looked to have a good technique and was mentally strong. He was given what would become the poisoned opener's chalice for 2010 and despite three fifties (including that famous marathon 62 from 290 balls against Sussex) and averaging a good ten runs more than any other batsman who opened for Surrey in the early part of that year, he was dropped, picked then dropped again. He played just once in 2011 despite scoring heavily for the Second XI and the First XI crying out for a steady opening batsman. What I'm trying to say is Harinath hasn't been dealt the best of hands in his Surrey career so I was delighted that he was given the final six games of 2012 to cement a place in the side. He made two hundreds and averaged 37 from the number three slot and while he's still not quite the finished article, he's more than earned his place in the side for 2013.

Jason Roy
CC: 612 runs @ 32. CB40: 115 runs @ 12. T20: 120 runs @ 12
Another who seemed to take Maynard's passing very hard, Roy did not have a good time of it in 2012. Since he came into the side in 2010 he has batted in all the top seven positions bar number four. I feel that he more than any other would benefit from knowing precisely what his role in the side was. Is he a Sehwag-esque dashing opener? Is he a lower-order biffer? Or is he a middle order batsman who keeps the pace of an innings going? Adams doesn't seem to know, so how can Roy himself know? I am still certain he is a prodigious talent and one poor season should not be enough to cast serious doubt over his ability. A winter of hard graft will pay dividends in 2013, watch that space.

Zander de Bruyn
CC: 709 runs @ 26. CB40: 210 runs @ 23. T20: 80 runs @ 16.
De Bruyn's 2011 (1,383 Championship runs at 55) was always going to be a very tough act to follow and barring a late season run of two fifties and a hundred he had an absolute shocker in 2012. He registered just three fifties in his first 24 innings this season, and ten scores of less than ten runs. In that time he averaged just 18 and yet seemed un-droppable. He also made a habit of getting out leg before which can be a worrying sign for a batsman the wrong side of 35. Given Surrey's depleted batting resources his late season surge are a blessed relief. I hope that the 2011 de Bruyn vintage will return next season.

Jacques Rudolph
CC: 229 runs @ 23. CB40: 69 runs.
Remember him? Another colossally disappointing overseas signing, he looked a shadow of the player who scored so heavily and for so long at Yorkshire. One fifty in ten innings is not what you'd expect from a senior international instilled with the responsibility of opening the batting. I don't quite know why he was only given one outing, in which he anchored a poor Surrey innings, in the CB40 but perhaps a cursory glance at his Championship record gives the answer. He should have been a great signing, but he wasn't.

Steven Davies
CC: 438 runs @ 22. CB40: 260 runs @ 23. T20: 184 runs @ 18.
What on earth is a player of Davies' abilities doing down at the bottom of this list? After starting the season as opener, as he had ended 2011 (with considerable success, averaging 54 in that slot) he steadily slipped down the order first to number four, then five and six before ending the season at number seven. He too seemed shell shocked by Maynard's death so it is unwise to be overly critical, especially of a man whom we know possesses such extravagant talent. Two scores of fifty or more in the Championship is not good enough but I was still pleased to see him sign a new deal with us. His time will come again and as he appears to have slipped off the England radar he can concentrate fully on Surrey for 2013.

Mark Ramprakash
CC: 107 runs @ 10
I toyed with the idea of leaving Ramps off this list altogether, to spare a Surrey legend the ignominy of propping up the list of batsmen, but I couldn't do it. To say he had a rough time of it is something of an understatement but he grafted to the end. Innings of 24 off 67 balls against Sussex and 37 off 101 balls in what would be his last innings, also against Sussex showed that Ramps was ready to rage against the dying of the light. He was out leg before five times in ten innings which is worrying in itself, but worse he wasn't scoring any runs all the while. It was desperately sad that he couldn't go out on a high, and I still don't know who was to blame for his poorly timed departure. Either way I'll say again, so long Ramps, and thanks for the memories.

The other
Much like Harinath, Tom Lancefield was never really given a fair crack of the whip but unlike his former colleague that persisted until the end of 2012 whereupon he was released. Interestingly was the only other batsman than Harinath to average over 30 opening the batting for Surrey in 2010 but a year of injuries in 2011, and a year of no cricket in 2012 made him surplus to requirements.

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