Hundreds for Steven Davies and Kumar Sangakkara set up Surrey for another comprehensive victory in the Royal London One-Day Cup as they beat Derbyshire by 77 runs in the sunshine at Guildford. Despite a century of his own for Wes Durston, a career-best bowling performance from seamer James Burke scuppered the visitors’ hopes of a successful run chase.
Winning the toss, Derbyshire captain Durston invited Surrey to bat. Davies quickly got the measure of conditions in which patience was required but that offered full value for shots when bowlers erred. After his fellow opener Jason Roy was caught behind after a quick fire 24 as he attempted to cut a rising delivery from Mark Footitt, it was clear that, despite the tempting short boundaries square of the wickets, timing the ball when pitched on or just short of a good length was not straightforward. Davies took heed and satisfied himself with picking up singles with low-risk dabs and pushes, only freeing his arms when the new-ball pairing of Footitt and Ben Cotton over-pitched.
Having navigated fine, controlled spells during the middle overs from first-change seamer Shiv Thakor and Durston with his off-spin, Davies was rewarded for his circumspect approach with some wayward bowling by Alex Hughes, who struggled with his lengths, and the returning Footitt, who either offered too much width outside the off-stump or strayed onto the pads. Solid foundations set, Davies was now able to open up and began finding the boundary regularly. He was particularly strong in whipping the ball off his pads, with one such effort flying over the mid-wicket boundary for six off Footitt.
The former England international has been dismissed in the nineties twice already in this year’s One-Day Cup, and Davies very nearly fell short of a ton for a third time when, on 95, he attempted to ramp a Footitt short-ball to the boundary, only for Tom Poynton to get a glove to the ball as it looped over his head. The Derbyshire keeper couldn’t hold on, however, and after readopting a more careful approach – understandably, given his recent near misses -, Davies finally made it to his seventh List A hundred in 96 balls. In an age of big-hitting boundary clearing, Davies’s innings was testament to the efficacy of good placement and rotating the strike when conditions demand.
Davies’ caution in approaching his century allowed Sangakarra, batting at three, to beat him to the individual milestone when he hit Footitt for three boundaries in three balls; a four followed by two maximums.
At the beginning of his innings, the veteran of 404 one-day internationals took longer than Davies to work out the best approach on the wicket, and for a period it looked like the Sri Lankan might let the frustration of not finding the middle of the bat get the better of him. He was fortunate that one or two mistimed drives early on did not carry to the Derbyshire fielders. Once adopted, a more measured approach saw the runs build steadily.
After profiting from the generous bowling that allowed him to overtake Davies, Sangakkara attempted to continue attacking. He was unable to do so, however, and was stumped in the 38th over for 109 of 107 balls as he ran past a delivery from Durston, who continued to offer little in terms of loose deliveries.
Davies and Sangakarra put on 204 together, just eight runs short of Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe’s Surrey record for the second wicket in one day cricket. The pair did set a new record against Derbyshire, however, surpassing Darren Bicknell and Nadeem Shahid’s 190 at Derby in 1995.
Looking to accelerate in the final overs of their innings, the Surrey batsmen continued to find it difficult to force the pace amid some impressive death bowling as Durston shuffled his bowlers in the closing overs.
After Rory Burns top-edged Alex Hughes to cover for eleven, Steven Davies eventually fell for 115 off 117 balls to the same man as he attempted to hit aerially off his pads once more only to pick out Steve Elstone in the deep. Tom Curran was effective, if not particularly elegant, when moved up the order as Surrey’s designated pinch-hitter, and when he departed it was left to Zafar Ansari to play some delightfully executed orthodox shots during his unbeaten 25 off 19 deliveries and lift the Surrey total to 326 for six off their fifty overs.
Durston got the Derbyshire reply off to a flying start as he laid into bowling from 17-year old Sam Curran that was too short and wide. His brother, Tom – also erratic – and slow-left armer, Zafar Ansari, with no room for error thanks to the short on-side boundary when bowling to the right-handed Durston, fared little better from the same end, and it was only Jade Dernbach who exercised any sort of control in the early stages of the innings.
The Derbyshire captain was imperious square of the wicket, cutting, pulling and sweeping out of the middle of the bat and splitting the field or simply bypassing it altogether as he repeatedly found the boundary.
Derbyshire’s hundred came up in the 13th over, with Durston having contributed 68. His partner, Billy Godleman, had reached just 24 as he nudged singles and made sure his captain was given as much of the strike as possible.
The away side appeared to be cruising to victory when Gareth Batty introduced James Burke into the attack in the 18th over with the score at 115 without loss. The ex-Somerset man had Godleman strangled down the legside with his very first ball, and with that the momentum had shifted irrevocably towards Surrey.
As long as Durston remained at the wicket, Derbyshire were still favourites. A hundred brought up in just 74 balls and including 14 fours and four sixes made that clear. Nonetheless, with the rest of the Derbyshire top order unable to get going themselves and departing at regular intervals – Chesney Hughes and Wayne Madsen in the same Burke over – their skipper was forced to play one aggressive shot too many in the face of a required rate that remained stubbornly above a run a ball. Any realistic chance of a Derbyshire win departed with Durston when he skied a top-edge high into the blue skies and was caught with remarkable coolness by Sam Curran off his brother’s bowling.
Their tails up, Surrey’s bowlers turned the screw and the Derbyshire innings became a procession. Elstone was the exception with a busy 39 off 41 balls in the mould of Davies’s earlier knock. His was the ninth wicket to fall and Burke’s fourth. When Mark Footitt was out two overs later, Derbyshire were all out for 249 in the 42nd over and Burke had a maiden one-day five wicket haul.
Surrey’s fourth consecutive victory puts them two points clear at the top of Group A of the One-Day Cup and within touching distance of a quarter final berth. Derbyshire’s inconsistency in the tournament continues and they have plenty of work to do if they’re to join Surrey in the next round.