Sunday, 19 May 2013

Surrey fall to third successive defeat

Graeme Smith's been gone barely ten days but in that time Surrey have managed to string together three consecutive defeats across two formats. We now have just a single win to our name in 2013 and the season already has a depressing familiarity to it.

Today's defeat, to Lancashire in the YB40 competition, was a close run thing but it was a defeat all the same. Adams opted for a high risk strategy which involved packing the side with bowlers and batting the skipper at number seven. Gareth Batty won the toss for the third game in succession and elected to bowl. It was a slightly surprising decision given the turning nature of the pitch (Lancashire picked three spinners), but perhaps Batty had the Manchester weather and a Duckworth-Lewis chase in mind.

In any case his bowlers made it look a mighty fine decision as they reduced the Lancashire top order to rubble. Before ten overs were up Lancashire were four down as Surrey's three seamers, Dernbach, Lewis and Tremlett shared the wickets around. Tremlett was especially tricky to negotiate which is hopefully an indicator of an up-turn in his form.

Spin was introduced into the attack in the 13th over and Keedy made an impression with his first delivery back at Old Trafford, as he had Wayne White caught behind to leave Lancashire 59-5. Karl Brown was busy compiling an excellent innings and he and Gareth Cross put on 30 runs to steady the innings a touch. However Cross, Hogg and Newby then fell within 10 overs and with the home side on 125-8 Surrey were looking good to go top of their YB40 group with a win.

Brown and Stephen Parry had other ideas though and they put on 38 in six overs and the last three overs disappeared for 40 runs to lift Lancashire to 176. Special mention should be made of the figures of Tremlett and Lewis who returned 4-48 from 15 overs between them on a spinners pitch. Jade Dernbach meanwhile could only manage 1-49 from seven. Given that the pitch was taking substantial spin already, despite the low total Surrey would have known they had a tough chase ahead of them.

Not that you would've known that from the way Davies and Roy started the innings. The pair despatched the eight powerplay overs for 60 runs, largely without taking excessive risk and Davies in particular was timing the ball well. The asking rate had fallen to 3.6 runs per over and Surrey were cruising. Then Roy fell to the first ball outside the powerplay and what followed was the decisive period of the game. Surrey batted out the next 15 overs for just 32 runs, scoring just a solitary boundary and losing five wickets in the process.

Gareth Batty and Zander de Bruyn halted the tumble of wickets but continued to struggle against the spinners. The required run rate climbed inexorably towards seven runs per over. Surrey then lost four wickets for 12 runs in just over two overs to all-but end the contest. A six run penalty for Lancashire's slow over rate briefly raised hopes but ultimately Dernbach and Keedy were left with too much to do.

Given the respective positions of the two sides at various points, Surrey will be very disappointed with the performance today. Lancashire were reduced to 59-5 while we were at one stage 60-0. Lancashire's spinners bowled 24 overs and returned 6-69 while Batty and Keedy bowled 16 and took 4-65. The efforts of two players, Karl Brown - who scored 80 from 84 balls and Stephen Parry - who took 5-17, stand out in this game.

A defeat early in the YB40 is always tough to recover from because the groups are so tight, but there are more pressing problems at hand. Although Ponting and Ansari will be available before too long, there would appear to be a shortage of options at the club, or a lack of confidence to give those few that are available a try. Why, for example, was Tom Jewell dumped for this game when he featured in the rained-off game against Durham without getting a chance to bowl? Despite some hope from the performance of the bowlers of late, three defeats on the bounce and some very dubious batting leave a lot of questions unanswered. Surrey need to arrest this slide towards a losing habit, and they need to do it quickly.


Tonfedd said...

'the season already has a depressing familiarity to it'. And that is the problem - Surrey need to break the cycle. There seems to be a steady stream of young talent coming through the system but the set up at first team level just doesn't seem to be able to make use of it - a number go elsewhere to succeed and buying in ageing stars doesn't seem to work, even if it did would only be a stop gap.

GreenJJ said...

Absolutely agree. The thinking on bringing young players on is so confused, I've no idea what the strategy is frankly. We're packed full of old blokes and we have some serious young talent - Edwards, Dunn, Jewell who we've barely seen. How can we know if they're good enough to make it?!

Tonfedd said...

I should know this but I'm afraid I don't - does the first team have specialist batting and bowling coaches - if not surely a more sensible use of money than buying in old blokes.

GreenJJ said...

We have a specialist bowling coach - Stuart Barnes, but no specialist batting coach. Adams and Salisbury share the duties by all accounts. No surprise really that the bowling seems to be starting to click but the batting....well the less said about that the better. I really think we need a dedicated batting coach. Could've had a great one in Ramps but not while Adams is around. The batting really came on while Thorpe was full time batting coach, since he's left it hasn't really moved forward.

miltonkeynesman said...

Josh - today's defeat looks a bad one on the face of it. For a large part of the game we were in charge, but batting was abject after getting to 60-0 in 8 overs. It appears Lancs copied our strategy of producing a spin friendly wicket and playing lots of spinners; perhaps the absence of Ansari was therefore crucial, but methinks that somewhere along the line we've blown a win here.

As regards the Notts game on one hand you could say it was the closest of the four Div1 games. But we did win the toss, their seam attack on paper wasn't that impressive and our batting simply wasnt good enough. We dropped some catches too.

We are better off than Derbyshire and level with Somerset and it's early days relatively. However something still appears to be rotten in the state of Denmark. We knew we would lose Smith to the CL for a while so should have had a plan in place for a third opener. As you say Harinath is the obvious choice, particularly as Ponting (and indeed KP if he plays) would be wanting to go in Number Three and Solanki would be able to play that role for now. I agree that de Bruyn would be better at seven with Wilson, Davies and Roy at 4/5/6 for now.

I also wonder about the rotation of the seamers. What we need is three well honed in guys taking wickets. A lot has been said of Jordan's start at Sussex, but I would rather draw people's attention to a certain Tim Murtagh at Middlesex. I could also mention Carberry and do have to wonder at times like this. A lot of people (and I'm talking manager and coaches) are getting a lot of money and results and more importantly performances arent really up to standard - in fact in some cases they are quite a long way off acceptable.

I wont go on further for now. By the end of the season we might look back at this stage and smile, let's hope so.

Best wishes as always


GreenJJ said...


I hope so too, but I don't think its likely. I agree with you, needless to say, that things aren't up to scratch. Lots of resource have been ploughed into this team over four years or so and for what? Not a lot of progress...

The Notts game, well it was disappointing but like you say we ran them pretty close at times, even if the margin in the end was massive. It was a bit of a beating frankly. What bothers me is that the same mistakes we were making in 2010 are still being made, which takes me back to my point above about progress.

You're right about the ones that got away too, Murtagh is the worst example for me, he'd be such a massive plus in our side right now.

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