A must win game for Surrey Lions against group leaders Hampshire Royals last night showcased an outstanding performance in the field from Surrey, who won in some style.
The boundaries were in and we tucked into some excellent fish and chips as the game got underway. Conditions were a little blustery and a little nippy first up as Surrey chose to bat and set Hampshire a target of 152.
Jason Roy flipped Mascarenhas to Imran Tahir at short fine leg early on. Steve Davies again looked sublime; his back foot play through the off side is so sweetly timed but he edged Mascarenhas to Bates after four delicious boundaries. RHB and Tom Maynard put a good partnership together, Maynard hitting Shahid Afridi into the Pavilion balcony. I see a lot of his father Matthew in the way Tom Maynard plays. Glamorgan’s loss is definitely Surrey’s gain. RHB went after a lovely straight six, trying to hit a wider one from Tahir into the crowd only to find Sean Ervine in front of the OCS stand.
I should mention that Ervine copped a bit of flak from the Pavilion crowd while fielding on the boundary, not calling a four to the umpire when the ball and Ervine himself may well have touched the rope. I didn’t have a clear view of this so can’t say for sure but there were a few members who politely questioned his commitment to the Spirit Of Cricket. With that Ervine became the pantomime villain for the rest of the game, doffing his cap when he got booed.
Zander de Bruyn, Maynard, Arafat and Zafar Ansari took the score to 151, which I thought was a touch under par; I’d have preferred 160. I thought that some of Surrey’s running could have pressured the fielders a bit more.
But Surrey have an excellent bowling attack. If it fires and they all come to the party then Tremlett, Nannes, Meaker and co are a handful for anyone. Nannes took five wickets against Middlesex and admitted “that was the worst tripe I’d ever bowled” – if he can pick up five bowling like that…
And fire they did. Adams well caught by Davies chasing a wide one from Arafat. Hampshire 0-1. Surrey’s speed and movement in the field showed just how up they were for this game; some of the best intensity I have seen from them this season. Enter Chris Tremlett. Against his old county. And Shahid Afridi. Oh yes.
Vince missed a couple of beauties from Tremlett then skied one to Dirk Nannes. Hampshire 3-2. Tremlett’s next over saw him get Neil McKenzie caught behind, 8-3 and then pantomime villain Sean Ervine gone for a duck, caught in the gully. Celebration from Tremlett, huge cheers in the Pavilion: Hampshire 9-4 and in real bother.
But Afridi was still there. When Boom Boom is there you know anything is possible. That’s what makes him worth watching.
Afridi put a partnership together with Dawson which looked to be getting Hampshire back in the game. Then Boom Boom tried to Boom Boom one from Zafar Ansari, the ball went up and Stuart Meaker took a good catch. Zafar’s celebrations showing how important this wicket was. Hampshire 60-5.
A word on Zafar Ansari here. He’s a very very impressive young man. A cool head with bat, ball and in the field. He may well become something very special for Surrey and England. I hope so, the signs are very promising.
Back to the game. Dimitri Mascarenhas came out to bat. Remember what he did to Yuvraj in a one day international at The Oval? Dawson drove Meaker straight, it looked to be heading for four when Jason Roy swooped round the long on boundary, picked up and threw down the stumps with Mascarenhas short of his ground. Huge cheers for the wicket and as Roy came back to his position the Pavilion crowd cheered him loudly. Hampshire 77-6.
Which became 78-7 after Dawson and Cork had a mix up and Dawson was run out. Briggs was cleaned up by Meaker, 81-8 and then Tremlett returned to nail Dominic Cork with a cracking yorker. Hampshire 89-9 and the fat lady was warming up. Tahir and Bates delayed the inevitable for a short while until Bates hit Nannes to Arafat in the gully. A win by 38 runs, Hampshire all out in 18.4 overs.
Chris Tremlett led the attack beautifully and took his best figures in T20 cricket. He looked mean, moody and magnificent.
Surrey Lions had a job to do and they did it very well. Winning the game would have been nice but to watch them stand and deliver as they did was a real joy.
You can watch the highlights from Surrey TV and a post-match interview with a very happy Chris Adams.