The last time Surrey and Derbyshire contested a 50-over match, four wickets from a parsimonious Graeme Welch helped secure victory for Derbyshire, and with it a semi-final birth in the 2003 Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy. Graham Thorpe, Adam Hollioake, Azhar Mahmood and Saqlain Mushtaq were his victims.
More than a decade later and – with the notable exception of Azhar, one of cricket’s Duracell bunnies – those Surrey icons of the previous era of domestic 50-over cricket have dispersed; consigned to the history books, the bloody theatre of Mixed Martial Arts or to watching overseas test matches in the middle of the night from a studio in Isleworth.
Welch, however, is still at Derby; working now as elite performance director at the club where he finished his playing career as captain. On Sunday, the 43-year old will bring his Derbyshire side to Guildford for their next fixture in the Royal London One-Day Cup and will be hoping that his charges can summon the spirit of that June day twelve years ago and defeat Surrey once again.
It won’t be an easy task. Surrey have identified themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the tournament this year by winning all three of their completed matches. Only Yorkshire have come anywhere close to defeating the South Londoners, with Northamptonshire and Durham brushed away with a minimum of fuss. Winless Leicestershire will probably count themselves lucky that their match against the Group A leaders on the opening weekend was lost to the weather.
Derbyshire’s early fortunes in the One-Day Cup have been mixed. Pursued relentlessly across the length and breadth of the country by Messrs Duckworth and Lewis during their opening three matches, consistency has clearly been hard to come by as the number of overs available fluctuated from game to game and from rain shower to rain shower.
A convincing win against Somerset at Taunton was followed by defeats at home to Yorkshire and away at Gloucestershire in games all abridged to a greater or lesser degree. The calculations involved in juggling his bowlers clearly got the better of captain Wes Durston in the game at Bristol, with part-timer Chesney Hughes called upon to bowl the final over and conceding the 21 runs Gloucestershire required for victory, including a no-ball for a surfeit of fielders on the leg-side. Finally permitted a full-length game, things improved for Derbyshire on Friday as they strolled to a seven-wicket victory under the lights at Derby.
Like Surrey, their young bowlers have impressed. Ben Cotton is the side’s leading wicket-taker with eight wickets at 18.5 runs each, and has been well-supported by another 21-year-old seamer Shiv Thakor. Leg-spinner Matt Critchley was the pick of the bowlers against Northants, picking up 4-48 in just his third List A appearance. He was six when his current coach bowled Derbyshire to victory over Surrey in that 2003 match. Graeme Welch might forgive him for making him feel so old if Critchley can do the same this time around.
The all-round contributions of Zafar Ansari make him an invaluable asset for Surrey. His 134 runs in the competition so far have allowed his side to finish their innings positively, building on the solid foundations laid by the top order. His slow-left arm bowling has brought timely wickets that have prevented oppositions from constructing the partnerships required to chase down Surrey’s totals.
Wayne Madsen has picked up where he left off last year in the One-Day Cup. After scoring 393 runs at an average of 65.17 in 2014, including back-to-back centuries, Derbyshire’s adopted South African son has amassed 225 runs already in his four innings in this year’s tournament.
Surrey have announced an unchanged squad from that which travelled to Durham on Friday.
Surrey squad: Gareth Batty (c), Zafar Ansari, James Burke, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Jade Dernbach, Ben Foakes, Tim Linley, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Gary Wilson.
An abdominal injury and a damaged thumb has brought a premature end to Hamish Rutherford’s season with Derbyshire. He will be back for a full season in 2016. Overseas replacement Tilekeratne Dilshan will only arrive in time for Derbyshire’s game against Leicestershire on Tuesday.
Derbyshire squad: Wes Durston (c), Billy Godleman, Ben Slater, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Scott Elstone, Alex Hughes, Shiv Thakor, Tom Poynton, Matt Critchley, Greg Cork, Ben Cotton, Mark Footitt.
Weather and Conditions
Dry and bright throughout, with any clouds set to burn off during the afternoon.
Date: 2nd August 2015
Time: 10.30 am
Ground: Woodbridge Road, Guildford
Umpires: Steve Gale & Martin Saggers.
Odds (Sky Bet): Surrey 1/2, Derbyshire 13/8.