A spectacular first-ever county hundred for 19-year-old Will Jacks helped Surrey chase down 283 to beat Gloucestershire by six wickets at The Kia Oval. The result gives Surrey their first win of this year’s Royal London One Day Cup.
Jacks, who was joined in a second-wicket partnership of 158 by experienced South African opener Dean Elgar (who made 50), looked an exceptional young talent as he raced to his hundred off 86 deliveries.
An extremely powerful hitter of the ball, the youngster was eventually dismissed for 121 going for one six too many, but not before smiting Gloucestershire’s attack to all parts. Followers of the U19 World Cup last winter will already know of his promise, but this was the first real, tangible evidence on the domestic scene that Jacks will go far at county level and maybe even beyond.
Perhaps the most promising aspect of his batting was how straight he hit the ball – with cross-batted shots now the considered the norm, it was a timely reminder of how aesthetically pleasing a well-executed straight drive can be.
The home side, without a win this season in their 50-over campaign, saw their run-chase get off to a poor start when Jason Roy departed in the opening over. Roy, for whom this was a first match back on English soil after a middling six-week sojourn in the IPL, looked to uppercut Craig Miles over the slips for six, but ended up only finding the fielder at third man, who made no mistake.
After Jacks fell, further contributions from Elgar and the highly-rated English middle order of Rory Burns, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope ensured Surrey did not waste their good start. All cashed in on some loose bowling as Gloucestershire’s attack went on an increasingly desperate search for cheap wickets, Chris Liddle and Tom Smith in particular proving expensive. The winning runs came up with four overs to go, and Surrey could reflect on an extremely professional performance and result.
The Gloucestershire total was largely thanks to contributions from their lower-middle order, with Ryan Higgins and Jack Taylor both making aggressive half-centuries. Their partnership of 110 in 18.2 overs transformed the visitors innings, which had up until that point seemed to be going nowhere fast.
Higgins in particular caught the eye, his unbeaten 81 from 70 deliveries including several truly enormous hits to the leg side, to go with some equally savage cut shots whenever Jade Dernbach or Sam Curran dropped short. The ex-Middlesex all-rounder is proving to be a really useful cricketer for Gloucestershire, with this his first half century for them in any format. Taylor also meted out punishment to any loose deliveries that came his way, eventually falling when he was caught in the deep off Curran.
Their partnership breathed life into an innings which had stumbled somewhat until then. George Hankins, Chris Dent and Gareth Roderick all went cheaply, helping out the home side with some soft dismissals. Coach Richard Dawson will reflect on a wasted opportunity to set an imposing run-chase here, and pile the pressure on a Surrey side short of confidence in the List A format.
Benny Howell had been the one top order batsman to impress, making 60 serene runs before he too got out loosely, hitting one massive six off Borthwick before trying to repeat the stroke the very next delivery and only finding a stooping Clarke at mid off, who took an excellent catch down by his toes. That dismissal left it all up to Higgins and Taylor, and their hard-hitting, innovative strokeplay looked to have set Surrey a challenging total – that is, until Will Jacks intervened.