Surrey's hopes of progressing in the YB40 took a major blow today as Lancashire recorded a convincing win by five wickets and with 15 balls remaining.
Lancashire won the toss and chose to field. Surrey surprisingly omitted Keedy and went for an all pace attack augmented by the left arm spin of Ansari. As has so often been the case Steven Davies and Jason Roy got the side off to a flier, taking Lancashire's bowlers for 63 runs in the eight over powerplay. Davies was particularly brutal as he moved to fifty from just 26 balls, his fourth score of fifty or more in seven YB40 innings this year.
The pair raced to 101 from just 12 overs before Davies fell to an athletic Stephen Moore catch off the bowling of Kyle Hogg. Roy also fell the very next ball after going to fifty as he edged Jordan Clark to the keeper. Thereafter it was a case of Surrey failing to establish any meaningful partnerships as we slid from 101 for no wicket after 12 overs to 198-7 off 32. Once again we had failed to capitalise on a flying start, though credit should be given to Lancashire's fine bowling effort.
Zander de Bruyn, batting at number eight, did an excellent job of finishing the innings as he scored 34 from 26 deliveries and formed a very useful 44 run partnership with Chris Tremlett over the final five overs. In the process de Bruyn almost doubled his tally of YB40 boundaries for 2013. Surrey's total of 264 looked below par but was at least something to bowl at.
The Lancashire chase began with fewer fireworks but Moore and Ashwell Prince calmly gave their side a very good platform. They were parted in the 12th over of the chase with the score on 85 as Moore got a leading edge off Jon Lewis, but Prince stood firm. With the score approaching 150 Lancashire lost Steven Croft, Prince and Karl Brown in the space of three overs to give Surrey hope. When Jordan Clark fell to de Bruyn with the score on 189 and the required rate well past 8 an over, Surrey looked hot favourites.
However that didn't count on the man batting at number five for Lancashire. Simon Katich put on an unbeaten partnership of 76 with Gareth Cross at almost 12 runs per over, including an over off de Bruyn where they took him for five consecutive fours to break the back of the chase. Katich finished on 57 from 37 deliveries, he'd marshalled the chase absolutely superbly.
It's hard to pinpoint a precise reason for the failure today. Certainly the extras we conceded, 21, including three no balls between Azhar Mahmood and Jon Lewis, didn't help. We're also not as good a fielding side as Lancashire. Katich and Moore plucked superb catches out of nowhere to get rid of Davies and Solanki, while Moore also ran out Ponting with a direct hit. As a fielding unit we're probably giving away 20 runs at the outset to the very best sides. I also find it odd that Zafar Ansari was left with six un-bowled overs when Stephen Parry took 1-34 for Lancashire with his left armers.
With just six points from seven matches we're all but out of the YB40 now. We've recorded just two wins all season and one of those was against Scotland. For all the talent and all the investment in the playing staff, we just aren't delivering results. The Twenty20 now remains our only hope of any semblance of success this season. That "domination" that the club hierarchy spoke of earlier this year feels an awful long way off.