It’s the final of the Royal London One-Day Cup. You’ve lost the toss and been put in to bat.
Your key man, the leading run-scorer of the competition to date is your opening batsman. Three balls into the match no runs have been scored but he’s sent packing – can you still win?
This was the question facing Gloucestershire when Michael Klinger fell as the first victim of a Jade Dernbach six-wicket haul and it looked as though it was going to be an uphill battle to say the least.
Number three batsman Gareth Roderick did his best to stay put at the crease but the Gloucestershire team struggled against the bowling of Dernbach and Azhar Mahmood.
Roderick was the highest scorer of the top five batsmen with 39 and when he fell to leave the side 108-5, it really did look like the favourites, Surrey, were going to walk their way to the trophy cabinet.
Retiring hero of the infamous 2005 Ashes series Geraint Jones was welcomed to the crease by rapturous applause, only rivalled by the standing ovation he received when Dernbach fired a yorker down and removed his middle peg.
His 50 from 65 was hard-earned and well-deserved, helped along by Tom Smith and Jack Taylor who made 20 and 35 respectively whilst putting on 52 and 49-run partnerships with Jones to settle their side after the early onslaught.
Azhar Mahmood was a late addition to the Surrey side it seemed when early in the week Zafar Ansari dislocated his thumb and ruled himself out of the big day.
Captain Gareth Batty assured everyone after the match that he was never in any doubt that Azhar Mahmood was the right choice and his 2-28 from 10 overs confirmed this.
The Curran brothers, Tom and Sam, also played key roles. While not receiving any rewards in the form of wickets, they kept the pressure on the batting side and ensured that no-one got away.
When the 48th over rolled around and the lunch spread at Lord’s was being merrily devoured by all those interested, it looked as though Gloucestershire would be making it to the end of their allocated 50 overs, albeit with fewer runs than truly desired on the board.
Dernbach had other ideas though. A yorker to Jones ensured that he would get no further than 50 and then a very good inswinger saw Craig Miles nick and inside edge behind to be removed without scoring. The players on the field had to regroup; Gloucestershire had lost two wickets in two balls and Surrey’s key wicket-taker was on a hat-trick.
David Payne was the man in question having to face Dernbach. A full toss, a questionable decision and a heaped tablespoon of major-event-pressure led to him being given out lbw, ending the Gloucestershire innings 14 balls prematurely and giving Dernbach the hat-trick.
Closing match figures of 6-35 for Dernbach are the second best figures ever for a Lord’s final and only the third hat-trick to be taken.
The scenes of a mobbed Dernbach and the sounds of a few thousand joyous Surrey fans ringing around Lord’s indicated more than enough: they thought 221 was an attainable total and the hat-trick had all but secured them the title.
If Klinger was a major batting hurdle for Surrey to get over, Gloucestershire had to clamber over Jason Roy, Steven Davies, Kumar Sangakkara and Rory Burns. The first two actually didn’t pose too much of a threat to the Gloucestershire bowlers and both fell victim to Jack Fuller before the team posted 50 but this brought Sangakkara and Burns to the crease.
The pair looked like they were out for a leisurely stroll in St John’s Wood and were going to tick over until they made the required 221 runs.
A fifty for each of them, Sangakkara’s coming from 60 balls with just three fours included and Burns’ from 72 balls with five fours, meant they got up to a solid 100-run partnership.
Immediately after the 101st run, however, something peculiar happened to Sangakkara who strode forth to strike the ball over mid-on but got only the toe-end of his bat on the ball – down the throat of sub-fielder Will Tavare’s throat the ball went.
With Sangakkara gone, Gloucestershire had a crack of a door back into this game.
If ever there was a match to illustrate how to kick that door and transform that crack into a wide open space, this was it.
The wickets kept falling. Batsmen kept resisting but only briefly. Burns fell to the same man, Jack Taylor, in his following over. Surrey had gone from 143-2 to 152-4; one wicket and one run behind Gloucestershire at the same stage of the game.
All of a sudden the match that had been predicted to be a walk-over was becoming tense. The Lord’s crowd were watching the scoreboard avidly. The 47 runs from 42 balls required was dropping rapidly and Surrey had the benefit of 14 balls Gloucestershire did not score from at the end of their innings.
Five wickets in hand with 42 balls remaining rapidly became three wickets in hand and 36 balls remaining and then two with 12 remaining. Eleven runs from 12 balls still favoured Surrey despite their scorecard reading eight down.
The pressure was on for Benny Howell and then David Payne as they bowled the penultimate and final overs respectively. Howell conceded four runs and James Burke found himself on the wrong-end of a run-out when Chris Dent shot-gunned the ball in from midwicket and he’s out by an inch.
Seven runs required from the final over, or two wickets. Key man at this stage of the game, 17-year-old Sam Curran, holed out to Howell for 37 who takes a clean catch in front of his travelling supporters.
Surrey captain Gareth Batty then had to go for it – he had no other option – but found the hands of Taylor and it was all over.
Gloucestershire players ran in all directions having secured their first one-day silverware in 11 years.
Can you still win? Of course you can.