Surrey confirmed their position as top team in Group A of the RLODC with a 12-run win over second-placed Gloucestershire at Bristol. Both counties had already qualified for the quarter-final stage and both were awarded home ties as a consequence of the Yorkshire v Northamptonshire match at Headingley being abandoned due to rain.
Surrey scored 291/8 in their 50 overs thanks mainly to an excellent fifth wicket stand of 93 between Rory Burns, who fell five short of his century, and Sam Curran with an exciting 42.
In response Gloucestershire were bowled out for 279. When they were 137/6 it looked as if the Surrey victory margin would be much more convincing than it turned out, but a fighting stand of 90 for the seventh wicket between Benny Howell (60) and James Fuller (45) gave the home side just a glimmer of hope.
On a beautiful morning Gloucestershire won the toss and fielded. Jason Roy was the first to go in the fifth over, caught at cover off Fuller. Soon after veteran Vikram Solanki became Fuller’s second victim when he edged a lifter to be caught behind.
Aneesh Kapil, like Solanki another former Worcestershire player, batted brightly for 33 until he was caught attempting a pull from Liam Norwell at 70/3 in the 14th over. But then Rory Burns and Ben Foakes gave the Surrey innings momentum, Burns in particular seizing on some loose deliveries from the medium-pace of Benny Howell. At 142/3 Surrey were taking charge when Fuller, who was the pick of the home bowlers taking 3/26 from his eight overs, returned to the attack and took an excellent caught and bowled to dismiss Foakes for 30.
Burns and 17-year old Sam Curran, on the ground which his father played with such distinction in the 1980s, added an aggressive 93 for the fifth wicket. Left-handed Curran played some powerful shots all round the wicket before he was lbw for 42, reverse sweeping at Jack Taylor. Burns followed immediately, caught at deep long on for 95, a superb innings scored from 96 balls with five fours and two sixes.
At 236/6 with seven overs remaining and two new batters Surrey were initially pegged back by some home bowling which was tighter than when Burns and Curran were in control. But Gary Wilson broke the shackles and added a brisk 37 before he was bowled by Howell from the last ball of the innings which closed on 291/8.
Gloucestershire started their response in breezy manner reaching 41 in the eighth over when Will Tavarè was caught behind in Tom Curran’s first over. After a confident start Gareth Roderick was caught behind from Tom Curran, just as the scoreboard flashed the news of the abandonment at Headingley. Skipper Geraint Jones reverse swept down the throat of backward square leg from Gareth Batty for 7 to leave Gloucestershire 83/3.
In his first over Surrey’s Devonian seamer James Burke picked up the wicket of Chris Dent, hitting straight to point to put Surrey in control at 97/4 in the 18th over. Kieran Noema-Barnett, as if not to be outdone by the poor shots of Jones and Dent, also surrendered tamely, offering a gentle catch to mid off to give Batty his second wicket. Half the Gloucestershire side were out for 120 in the 22nd over and the match looked very much Surrey’s.
Jack Taylor, often a batting hero for his team in this competition, offered brief aggressive resistance before skying a catch to wicket-keeper Wilson.
At 137/6 with defeat seemingly inevitable for the home side, Howell and Fuller rallied the innings. Howell, who top-scored with 80 at Northampton yesterday, played with great assurance meriting his position of number five in the batting order. Such was the enterprise of the pair’s batting that at the point when their seventh wicket stand of 90 was broken, when Tom Curran uprooted Fuller’s off-stump for 45 in the 42nd over, a whiff of another dramatic Gloucestershire victory was in the air. However 227/7 became 231/8 when Howell was caught at the wicket from Jade Dernbach and despite some resistance from Tom Smith (37 not out) the home side were all out for 279 in the last over.
All the Surrey bowlers stuck to their tasks well with Dernbach (3/45) and Tom Curran (4/65) delivering the best figures. In addition, the visitors’ catching was first class.
Both counties now wait to learn the identity of next week’s quarter-final opponents. Surrey will approach the challenge with renewed confidence after their loss to Somerset yesterday whereas Gloucestershire’s chances may rest on the fitness of injured batsmen Michael Klinger and Hamish Marshall.