Surrey is one of those teams that people always expect to do well, whatever the competition. In the battle between the fashionable and the unfashionable counties, Surrey are always considered one of the best. Sometimes, they live up to their promise; sometimes they don’t.
2016 has been a fairly even season for the Rey – they haven’t excelled yet they haven’t disappointed either. In the four-day game, they look like finishing comfortably mid-table; in the Blast they won seven and lost seven and finished smack in the middle of the South group table.
On the surface, the RLODC has been no different: they lost three games and won four. They finished fourth in their group, with a points tally that more closely resembled Hants in fifth place than Somerset in first.
It isn’t that simple, however. A closer look at the results shows that Surrey lost their first two games but then only lost one in the final six, all punctuated by excellent performances from players such as Stuart Meaker, Jason Roy, Jade Dernbach and the veteran captain Gareth Batty.
Their quarterfinal against Northamptonshire saw Kumar Sangakkara bat like Kumar Sangakkara, amassing 130* in a thrilling victory. Chasing 277, Surrey had some struggles in their innings but the Sri Lankan held out and took them to a last ball win.
In the semifinal at Headingley, Yorkshire’s strong bowling and fielding choked the Surrey innings, limiting them to 255. Only Ben Foakes and Steven Davies made any real runs. In reply, however, Stuart Meaker took three wickets in nine balls and helped push the Tykes right out of the competition.
Tomorrow, Surrey will play in their second successive Royal London One-day cup final and they have every right to be confident. Last year, they looked like easily winning against underdogs Gloucestershire, only to be surprised in the final few overs. It was a disappointing loss for Surrey, yet they performed well and took away many positives – not least of which was a reinforced belief in the skills of young all-rounder Sam Curran.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that Somerset lost only one game all tournament or that Yorkshire dominated with the ball in their home semifinal. Tomorrow is the RLODC final at the home of cricket, and it’s Surrey who have made it this far.
Although he has recently announced his intention to leave the side, Steven Davies is nevertheless a central figure in the Surrey side. Having made the most runs in the competition for Surrey thus far, his century in the Yorkshire semifinal had him labeled man of the match. A powerful figure at the top of the order, he can set an innings up for his side by scoring quickly.
Bearing down on 40, Surrey’s captain Gareth Batty is the heart and soul of his side. A spinner who is incredibly capable with the bat, he finished the season with 14 wickets and will hope to lead his team to the victory they came very close to taking in 2015. Batty’s experience and his technical ability, both with the bat and the ball, have made him a well-respected captain and a very successful player.
If Surrey’s bowling is slightly stronger than its batting, it’s largely due to the efforts of Stuart Meaker and Jade Dernbach. Meaker can reach some fantastic speeds and can change the colour of a game very quickly, as seen in the semifinal at Headingley. Dernbach is a man that divides England supporters, county cricket fans and tattoo artists alike but his ability in this format for Surrey is not in question. His ability to vary his attack can seduce a batsman into playing an ill-advised shot, and he is known for getting up some decent pace when required.
Squad and team news
Jason Roy and Zafar Ansari both return to the side having missed one and two natches respectively; the first due to England duty, the second a back injury.
Surrey squad: Gareth Batty (c), Zafar Ansari, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Jade Dernbach, Ben Foakes, Mark Footitt, Stuart Meaker, Ollie Pope, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Dominic Sibley.