Aaron Finch and Jason Roy produced surely one of the most astonishing displays of power-hitting ever seen in English domestic T20, ensuring Surrey eased to a nine-wicket win over Somerset in a rain-affected encounter at The Kia Oval.
Such was the brutality of their onslaught, the home side reached their target of exactly 100 in 6.4 overs, rendering the 3.2 still available to them slightly unnecessary. You had to feel slightly sorry for the Taunton side; this opening pair is probably the most destructive and aggressive in the Blast this year, and each has taken apart plenty of international attacks in their time.
Both attacked the ball as if it had personally wronged them, several of their maximums making the crack-like sound normally reserved for baseball home runs. They made a worthy, canny Somerset attack look really quite ordinary – the latter can take comfort in the fact that more bowlers will surely suffer the same fate in the next month or so.
The Oval, remember, is not one of English cricket’s postage-stamp grounds, and the boundaries hadn’t even been brought in that much – this was just an exhibition of how to hit the ball a very long way. Finch, Roy and Nic Maddinson combined to hit 86 off 40 balls, giving the bowlers economy rates a grisly, brutalised look. In fairness, sometimes when top-class batsmen are in this mood there’s not much at all that can be done to stop them.
The fact that any play was possible at all after a thunderstorm of Carribean-like proportions earlier in the day was impressive, as the rain had rolled in across south London all afternoon and well into the evening. Blue skies had eventually settled over the ground by 7pm, and an 8:15 start meant a 10-over-a-side thrash.
The seeds of Somerset’s later destruction were sewn initially in their batting effort; after being put in by the home side they never got going until the final two overs. The instigator behind this late push was Captain Lewis Gregory – the all-rounder was on 20 with eight overs gone, before hitting three sixes and three fours in the final 12 balls to get the visitors up to what looked a challenging score.
Gregory’s method for run-scoring is not complicated when it comes to the death; he simply swings murderously through the line and watches the ball disappear into neighbouring settlements. While this should have given the visitors confidence, it did also presage what was to come.
Surrey’s bowlers deserve plenty of credit, having been well on top of things before Gregory momentarily intervened. At one stage they had the west country side 64-6, with the top order having been blown away by a combination of Tom Curran, Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty. Curran’s two overs in particular will be noted by those in positions of power; he looked very sharp indeed, and his two top-order wickets in an over were key for Surrey in asserting their dominance early on. It turned out to be a dominance they never let slip.