Surrey come into this Lord’s final as strong favourites, and deservedly so. They’ve lost only one game this competition, scored more runs than any other side and boast a terrific bowling line-up, and they face a Gloucestershire side that they’ve already beaten in this format. Everyone involved with the club should be mildly relaxed.
However, Surrey have a distinct tendency of trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as often as they possibly can. Look no further than their previous two games in this competition – nearly allowing number nine Matt Coles to claim victory for Kent in the quarter-finals and then allowing Nottinghamshire to recover from 16 for three to having a chance of victory from the final delivery.
It’s crucial to forget about the past, however, and simply look to the future. That’s certainly what the club appear to be doing, filling their squad with young talents in amongst some very experienced senior players – of the club’s regular side, six of them are 25 or younger.
It is Sam Curran who immediately stands out in that department. Since coming onto the scene in June, the younger of the Curran brothers has left all those inside, and some outside, cricket highly impressed. 34 wickets from his first twenty games, including 15 from this competition’s nine games, and bowling in the mid-to-high eighties at just 17 years of age certainly marks him out as one to keep an eye on.
One punter even went as far as to suggest the idea of Curran breaking the late Brian Close’s record as the youngest England test cricketer, though that seems extremely premature.
For five of those younger players – Curran and his brother, Tom, James Burke, Rory Burns and Ben Foakes, the chance to be part of a Lord’s final will be an experience like no other. The three bowlers, in particular, have coped well under pressure this summer – Tom Curran’s final over in the semi-final illustrated that he can thrive in the big moments – and I’d expect nothing less from them when their side need it the most.
Strength in depth is key for Surrey all round, but it is their batting line-up in particular that really shines. Despite more middle order collapses than one would like, every single player in the team, bar Jade Dernbach, is more than capable of playing a role with the bat – be it building the innings or providing late contributions.
Described as “still the best player in the world” by his captain Gareth Batty, Kumar Sangakkara has been a huge asset this season. Batting at three, he’s contributed 429 runs at an average of 61 with two centuries. His experience is invaluable to this young side and, when in full flow, makes the art of batting look like the easiest thing in the world.
While Surrey don’t rely on one player to score all their runs, it always seems like a given that Sangakkara will do so.
At the top of the order, Steven Davies and the returning Jason Roy do an excellent job of starting off an innings. They’ve opened together in seven matches this season and on every occasion, one of them has gone on and made a big score. They, along with Sangakkara, boast two centuries each and chances are, one of them will go big again on Saturday.
It’s important not to underestimate Gloucestershire coming into this match. Surrey beat them whilst they were missing Michael Klinger and so to assume that this final will be a walkover would be naive. They can certainly come into this final with a lot of confidence, however, knowing that all their hard work has led them to this point – only one step away from success.
A win at Lord’s would cap the end to a fantastic season for the South London county, who have already achieved promotion to Division One of the County Championship and, at the time of writing, are in a prime position to claim the Division Two title. Interestingly, the last time Surrey achieved promotion was in 2011, when they also took home the CB40 trophy. Coincidence? Perhaps.
With the chance to win a potential second piece of silverware in a week, Surrey’s first Lord’s final in four years will be one for fans and players alike to relish. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around all that often and this side will need to be at their best come Saturday to take home the crown.