Essex v Surrey, FLt20 South Group, Chelmsford July 31, 2013

Essex stumble towards last-eight lifeline

Surrey 165 (Davies 54, Napier 4-18) beat Essex 104 (ten Doeschate 60, de Bruyn 4-19) by 61 runs
Scorecard

Essex are staving off an annus horribilis. Bowled out for 20 against Lancashire in the County Championship in May the guffawing will continue for some time) they were booed off on their home ground after subsiding for only 74 against Middlesex in the Friends Life t20 last month.

Here their supporters were reduced to sarcastic laughter as they limped into three figures. Their narrow qualification for the quarter-finals courtesy of Middlesex's defeat at Hampshire presents them a generous lifeline to rescue their season, although a transformed batting effort will be needed away to Nottinghamshire - the first time the sides will have met in T20.

Essex's pursuit of 166 to secure a home quarter-final was miserable. A host of mistimed drives and pulls presented easy catches to fielders in the ring and only the free-swinging Ryan ten Doeschate made double figures. At least he avoided another humiliation by edging Essex above their lowest T20 total. They missed Owais Shah, their highest run-scorer in the competition, with a torn hamstring that will rule him out of the quarter-final.

Essex's dressing-room celebrations were understandably muted as they watched tv coverage of Middlesex's failure to edge them out of the last quarter-final place. Nobody was more stony-faced than their coach, Paul Grayson. There has been one abandoned game in the group stages - and the point Essex collected in their rained off match against Hampshire at Chelmsford had proved invaluable.

A pitch that offered a little seam movement was made to order for Surrey's bowling attack and they successfully defended a total for the sixth time in the competition. They again smartly executed their game plan having won the toss and snapped a miserable record at Chelmsford to secure a home quarter-final.

Their batting hasn't fired - this was only their third total above 160 - but they know how to defend a score and made up for their struggles at Chelmsford with a maiden T20 victory by a margin that suggests Surrey are again a force in the shortest format.

For the first four seasons of T20 Surrey qualified for the knockout stage but the last time they got out of their group was 2006, despite a giant budget for overseas signings. Another marquee name this season, Ricky Ponting, produced only one innings of note - despite fine first-class form - but Azhar Mahmood, a more astute acquisition, has earned his fee.

Mahmood is the archetypical canny operator and here removed first Greg Smith and then Mark Pettini in his opening two overs. Jon Lewis, very much in the Mahmood mould, enjoyed the conditions too. Zander de Bruyn also proved effective and Gareth Batty fancied his seamers so much he gave Jason Roy a first spell of the competition. Batty said he had been bowling well in the nets and he duly removed Tim Phillips.

But there were plenty of poor strokes. Hamish Rutherford was on his third life - dropped by Steven Davies and a stinker of a drop by Batty at mid-on - before he top-edged a pull, Pettini did likewise and James Foster summed up the display by meekly edging behind trying a run a back-of-a-length ball to third man.

The most criminal strokes were played by the lower order, Phillips, David Masters and Shaun Tait - in a pair of luminous yellow boots - all surrendering unnecessarily when they should have been playing for ten Doeschate who has single-handedly won games before and could have done so here. Anything off a length was blasted to the boundary and it took a masterly slower ball from Jade Dernbach to remove him and end the game.

Dernbach had earlier produced a quick nip-backer to bowl Ravi Bopara and he emulated movement off the pitch generated by Graham Napier in a fine spell of 4 for 18 that included a double-wicket maiden.

Napier's wickets top-and-tailed a Surrey innings that sold itself short. They have struggled with the bat in the competition. The cause has been a lack of significant innings: Steven Davies made only the fifth T20 half-century for Surrey this season. Their failure to get an established batsman into the latter half of the innings has curtailed their efforts and it showed here as they subsided with only 26 runs in the final four overs.

Davies produced Surrey's highest individual score in T20s this year with an unbeaten 95 against Kent in the third group match. He looked set for something similar after some clean hitting took him past fifty in 26 balls with three sixes - the best of which cleared long-on off Masters. When he fell, Surrey were rattling along at nine an over but de Bruyn and Gary Wilson were the only other players to make double figures.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nursery_ender on August 1, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Posted by hambat on (August 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT) ...how come Foster hasn't been using Bopara's bowling a bit more?

    Because Bopara's got a side strain that means he can't bowl.

  • Hayes_Close_End on August 1, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    @Hambat

    Bopara is hardly 'over the hill', and Smith and Shah have both made significant contributions in T20 this year. I do agree they are slow to get going, and therefore if they get out cheaply it puts too much pressure on the lower order.

    Lets not forget Essex stuffed Surrey at the Oval a few weeks ago in the first fixture - it's not all doom and gloom, though they'll need to pull their socks up to beat Notts.

  • WilliamFranklin on August 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    @cyril

    Well said, Batty has lead superbly in the T20. Bringing on Roy for his first ever T20 bowl proved an excellent decision as he removed Phillips, and by this stage he could afford to give Roy another over even with RTD in full flow.

  • hambat on August 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    As happened so often, Smith, Owais and Bopara take a very long time to get going, if at all, thereby putting enormous pressure on batters behind them. And the bowlers have shown great intelligence too. They are all over the hill, just as Grayson and Silverwood have been out of their depth.

  • hambat on August 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Smith, Owais and Bopara take very long to get going. It shouldn't take more than 3 or 4 deliveries. This is T20 for god's sake. Anyway how come Foster hasn't been using Bopara's bowling a bit more?

  • Cyril_Knight on August 1, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Batty's captaincy was again superb. So often T20 captains follow a preconceived plan, opening with an over of spin, spin immediately after the powerplay, removing or never having slips, he never fell into this trap.

    Batty read the pitch and the match conditions and his bowlers backed him up. There was hardly anything in the surface, but again the instructions to bowl a good length with the seam up meant that the Surrey bowlers extracted everything possible.

    Adaptability seems to be the greatest asset the Batty's captaincy. I believe that if he was not captain yesterday Surrey would have lost.

  • nursery_ender on August 1, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Posted by hambat on (August 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT) ...how come Foster hasn't been using Bopara's bowling a bit more?

    Because Bopara's got a side strain that means he can't bowl.

  • Hayes_Close_End on August 1, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    @Hambat

    Bopara is hardly 'over the hill', and Smith and Shah have both made significant contributions in T20 this year. I do agree they are slow to get going, and therefore if they get out cheaply it puts too much pressure on the lower order.

    Lets not forget Essex stuffed Surrey at the Oval a few weeks ago in the first fixture - it's not all doom and gloom, though they'll need to pull their socks up to beat Notts.

  • WilliamFranklin on August 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    @cyril

    Well said, Batty has lead superbly in the T20. Bringing on Roy for his first ever T20 bowl proved an excellent decision as he removed Phillips, and by this stage he could afford to give Roy another over even with RTD in full flow.

  • hambat on August 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    As happened so often, Smith, Owais and Bopara take a very long time to get going, if at all, thereby putting enormous pressure on batters behind them. And the bowlers have shown great intelligence too. They are all over the hill, just as Grayson and Silverwood have been out of their depth.

  • hambat on August 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Smith, Owais and Bopara take very long to get going. It shouldn't take more than 3 or 4 deliveries. This is T20 for god's sake. Anyway how come Foster hasn't been using Bopara's bowling a bit more?

  • Cyril_Knight on August 1, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Batty's captaincy was again superb. So often T20 captains follow a preconceived plan, opening with an over of spin, spin immediately after the powerplay, removing or never having slips, he never fell into this trap.

    Batty read the pitch and the match conditions and his bowlers backed him up. There was hardly anything in the surface, but again the instructions to bowl a good length with the seam up meant that the Surrey bowlers extracted everything possible.

    Adaptability seems to be the greatest asset the Batty's captaincy. I believe that if he was not captain yesterday Surrey would have lost.

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  • Cyril_Knight on August 1, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Batty's captaincy was again superb. So often T20 captains follow a preconceived plan, opening with an over of spin, spin immediately after the powerplay, removing or never having slips, he never fell into this trap.

    Batty read the pitch and the match conditions and his bowlers backed him up. There was hardly anything in the surface, but again the instructions to bowl a good length with the seam up meant that the Surrey bowlers extracted everything possible.

    Adaptability seems to be the greatest asset the Batty's captaincy. I believe that if he was not captain yesterday Surrey would have lost.

  • hambat on August 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Smith, Owais and Bopara take very long to get going. It shouldn't take more than 3 or 4 deliveries. This is T20 for god's sake. Anyway how come Foster hasn't been using Bopara's bowling a bit more?

  • hambat on August 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    As happened so often, Smith, Owais and Bopara take a very long time to get going, if at all, thereby putting enormous pressure on batters behind them. And the bowlers have shown great intelligence too. They are all over the hill, just as Grayson and Silverwood have been out of their depth.

  • WilliamFranklin on August 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    @cyril

    Well said, Batty has lead superbly in the T20. Bringing on Roy for his first ever T20 bowl proved an excellent decision as he removed Phillips, and by this stage he could afford to give Roy another over even with RTD in full flow.

  • Hayes_Close_End on August 1, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    @Hambat

    Bopara is hardly 'over the hill', and Smith and Shah have both made significant contributions in T20 this year. I do agree they are slow to get going, and therefore if they get out cheaply it puts too much pressure on the lower order.

    Lets not forget Essex stuffed Surrey at the Oval a few weeks ago in the first fixture - it's not all doom and gloom, though they'll need to pull their socks up to beat Notts.

  • nursery_ender on August 1, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Posted by hambat on (August 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT) ...how come Foster hasn't been using Bopara's bowling a bit more?

    Because Bopara's got a side strain that means he can't bowl.