Nottinghamshire v Surrey, Trent Bridge, 4th day May 18, 2013

Surrey risk unravelling again

Nottinghamshire 274 (Mullaney 68, Meaker 4-70) and 191 (Meaker 4-64) beat Surrey 207 (Wilson 49) and 144 (Burns 53, Franks 3-16) by 114 runs

Five matches, no wins, two defeats: Surrey's season already has the feel of an expensive failure, a tale of over-inflated expectations. Chris Adams, their team director, made reference to the impact of the season-ending injury to their captain, Graeme Smith, but made it clear, too, that it was time his squad began to deliver performances as a team in four-day cricket, rather than simply showing snapshots of their talent in disconnected moments.

Nottinghamshire have been slow starters themselves in the Championship but, in conditions that were suited to the strengths of their bowling attack - even one shorn of the mesmeric skills of Andre Adams - they had just enough weaponry to make sure that home advantage paid.

"It is a disappointing outcome because I think this time was the first time our bowlers as a unit have nailed it all season in a four-day game," Chris Adams said.

"It was a bowler friendly wicket, with good grass coverage and moisture content, good pace and carry and with the overhead conditions there has been plenty of action, if not the weight of runs you would like. But you expect that at Nottinghamshire and we have no complaints - we simply did not perform as well as the opposition.

"Yes, we did start the season with high expectations, but I was a player for 22 years and have been here five and in every one of those 27 seasons there have been high expectations of Surrey. This group - the players, the coaches and myself - share the same ambitions.

"But we are only five games in and, with the points system as it is, if you can follow two defeats with two wins you are right back in there. We felt we were - and are - a genuinely competitive side in all competitions.

"It has been a difficult couple of weeks, with Graeme going home, needing to regroup and with Gareth Batty taking on the captaincy. But if we can win our 40-over game tomorrow we will be top of our group and with a week then to address what we need to do in four-day cricket - not to just have fleeting moments in a game where we show what we are capable of but to put together a performance over four days, with bat and ball, that will get us over the line."

Nottinghamshire were always ahead in the contest and had set Surrey a daunting target of 259 to win. From 72 for 3 overnight they needed to reach the haven of lunch on the final day with no more than one or two more wickets lost to stand a realistic chance. As it was, they were eight down after Harry Gurney, the left-armer who now looks an outstanding prospect in four-day cricket, had effectively finished them off by dismissing Gary Wilson, Batty and Steven Davies in quick succession.

Before that, the two vital breakthroughs had been supplied by Paul Franks, 34 and in his 18th season with the county, whose appearance in this match had been something a personal triumph after beginning the season with the double-edged honour of being second XI captain.

Franks knew his opportunities this season would be limited but his form has been good enough to warrant selection as Adams continues to rehabilitate after a calf injury and his performance with the ball in the first innings persuaded stand-in captain James Taylor to turn to him rather than Ajmal Shahzad as first change.

Shahzad seems short of confidence - in Franks' words "still learning how to bowl at Trent Bridge". Franks, on the other hand, knows conditions here as well as anyone and it was he who shot the biggest hole in Surrey's hopes when Rory Burns, who had played with style and assurance in reaching 53 from 87 balls, was caught behind. Franks had been angling the ball into the opener's pads but then tempted him with some width and an expansive drive proved his downfall.

"It was good to be back in the side, absolutely," Franks said. "I've been here a long time and I've had to fight all the way through that time and I was made aware of the fact that I would have to fight for my place this year.

"But it was never the case, as has been written, that the club told me I could leave, it was more the other way around, of me wanting to know where I stood and what my options were.

"I didn't expect to be told I would play in every game but after such a long time in one place I just needed a bit of assurance that I was still wanted. The club were very honest with me and I feel happy with where I am, I'm just enjoying taking a bit of pressure off myself and savouring days like today."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 19, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    I guess it goes to prove that you may be able to attract and pay "star" players, but you can't buy success and if the current failures are being attributed to the absence of one man ie Smith, then that doesn't say a lot for the so-called quality of the rest of them. IMHO Chris Adams was dead lucky to land the job in the first place is an even luckier to still be in it..

  • stuart on May 19, 2013, 12:49 GMT

    You seem to get the feeling that they have never recovered from the Hollioake factor.That Surrey team was one of the best county teams I ever saw. They need to have some consistency and feel they would benefit from letting Chris Adams go.

  • Samuel on May 19, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    Through all the Surrey doom & gloom, another eye catching performance from Burns and, in particular, Meaker. Would love to see him unleashed against the Kiwis or Aussies in Test match whites sooner or later...

  • Michael on May 18, 2013, 21:48 GMT

    Surrey seem to have been in an ongoing crisis for ages,going back 8 or 9 years. The time leading up to relegation to Div 2 and the three seasons spent there were really low points and of course last June's tragedy created a tailspin which took a lot to come pout of. Unfortunately smith's departure has drained a lot of hope from this season as shown in the last two results. No-one is to blame but everyone is responsible. The batting is too weak without Smith and maybe putting all of the youngsters in at the top is too much.Burns seems to grow on it but Roy and Harinath need a bit of help. The matter of age is a red herring as numerical age is a sort of a lie and one should pay less attention to that than productivity. One man at 40 may feel worse than another at 50. Stewart could have gone on for a while at 40, whereas Atherton had to retire at 35. Solanki is still producing and is a lovely player to watch. the problem at the moment seems to be de Bruyn,but in 2011 he was top scorer.

  • Ray on May 18, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    Surrey's bowling is a bit inconsistent but the batting is a real worry. Apart from Burns and, to a lesser extent, Davies (and if you are being really generous, Wilson) the batting has been woeful. I had hoped that Harinath might have kicked on, as he had some good performaces at the end of last season, but he is terribly out of touch. I've never been a fan of Roy (OK in 20/20) and he can't buy a run: Time for Solanki and De Bruyn to call it a day. Sadly, there's not much in the way of replacements. Going to be a long season. Does Ponting know what he's letting himself in for?

  • Ray on May 18, 2013, 18:34 GMT

    As a Surrey supporter, I find it more than a little tiring to hear this old chestnut about our lack of committment to home-grow talent being wheeled out yet again. True, due to our financial clout, we can supplement our home grown players with high profile signings but if you look back at any one of the Surrey teams over the past 20 years, there have almost always been a majority of

    If we compare the two sides here, both have 6 home grown players.

  • Mark on May 18, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Surrey seem to have lurched from one extreme to the other. Last season many of their problems came from having a side packed with young and, sad to say, immature players, of immense talent, but insufficient self-discipline. This year the side is packed with bought-in veterans: even though not all of them play every match, there are too many players who are 35+ and not enough in the 26-33 bracket. The batting is fragile and the bowling, so potent on paper, is miss-firing badly, allowing sides to get out of trouble and make defendable totals.

    Nottinghamshire look a pale shadow of the side of the last two years, winning this game will have worked wonders for their confidence. Ajmal Shazad will surely come good by the end of the season and, when he does so, will add menace and fire-power to the attack. James Taylor seems to have found his feet and, although the batting remains unreliable, the lower middle-order and tail always seem to boost the total. No title, but they will so okay.

  • John on May 18, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    I'm sad that Surrey aren;t doing well, because County Cricket benefits from a strong Surrey side. However, I'm also glad, because they have tried so hard to buy success. If the present circumstance prompted a rethink and a long-term commitment to home-grow the majority of a good side, that would be for the good of Surrey and cricket as a whole. Many people are very concerned to see cricket making the same mistake as English soccer.

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