Record-breaking run-fest provides perfect start
Glamorgan 240 for 3 (Ingram 91, Rudolph 62, Cooke 46*) beat Surrey 215 (Ansari 67, Davies 58, Cosker 4-30) by 25 runs
Four-hundred-and-fifty-five runs, the most ever for a T20 match in England and fourth highest in all T20 cricket, were plundered in just over three hours of ferocious cricket as a typically boisterous Kia Oval crowd of almost 13,000 sang, jeered, drank and cheered their night away as Surrey slid to 25-run defeat in spectacular fashion.
A masterful team batting effort in both strategy and execution from Glamorgan saw them record the fourth highest score in the history of domestic T20 in England, 240 for 3, as they began their 2015 campaign with an explosive victory. Even though Surrey recorded their fifth highest T20 score in response, they were never really in contention to chase the runs, losing wickets at regular intervals, eventually bowled out with three balls to spare.
After losing the toss and being put into bat, Glamorgan began their innings with cautious, but positive, intent. Mark Wallace struck two fours in the second over of the innings before he was caught at mid-off for 10 off the bowling of Tom Curran. Wallace's demise brought the South African-born pairing of Jacques Rudolph and Colin Ingram together.
Rudolph seemed happy to play second fiddle to his partner, hitting no boundaries in the Powerplay, while Ingram, who was spectacularly caught off a no-ball when on just 9, struck three fours and two sixes to see Glamorgan exit the sixth over nicely positioned at 53 for 1.
It will please Glamorgan that Rudolph and Ingram, both former international players of clear class, but perhaps not particularly attuned to T20, scored at strike-rates of 158 and 193 respectively, well above their career records of 116 and 125. Glamorgan lack real firepower in the lower order following the departure Jim Allenby and Cooke is the only player with a strike-rate of more than 127. Surrey meanwhile, will be encouraged that they scored 215 on a day when Roy failed.
Effortlessly moving through the gears in the middle overs, and with both men passing fifty, Batty and Ansari conceded 87 runs from seven overs and neither took a wicket. But it was not only the spinners who were punished by Glamorgan. Seamer Matt Dunn had a day to forget, going wicketless and conceding 54 runs from his four overs.
The 141-run partnership was broken in the fifteenth over as Rudolph, clearly looking to accelerate further, mis-timed a heave to mid-on to depart for 62. Two overs later Ingram followed his captain back to the pavilion when he was bowled by a Wahab Riaz, whose figures at the end of his third over were an impressive 1 for 16.
That was as good as it got for Wahab and Surrey as Chris Cooke and Ben Wright hammered 58 from the final three overs, including 29 off a single Wahab over in which Cooke hit three sixes in four balls. It may have been the home team on the receiving end of the onslaught but the crowd were in balmy spirits as the innings came to a close. Cooke finished 46 not out off 19 balls, while Wright blitzed 16 from his seven. Glamorgan had scored 138 for 2 from their final 60 deliveries.
Surrey lost last season's leading run-scorer Jason Roy after just four balls of the chase, but there was no dampening the sense of occasion nor optimism as Kumar Sangakkara joined Steven Davies at the crease. Sangakkara struck three consecutive fours in the fifth over but Surrey fell behind the rate almost immediately and when they lost Sangakkara just before the end of the Powerplay there was an overwhelming sense that this enormous chase was going to be too many.
Davies and Aneesh Kapil then departed in quick succession and when Dean Cosker, who finished with 4 for 30, dismissed Gary Wilson and Vikram Solanki off consecutive balls in the tenth over, the match was as good as lost.
The party atmosphere continued deep into the Surrey innings however, as Ansari clubbed an unbeaten 67 off 32 balls. No one stuck with him though and Surrey were eventually bowled out for 215 with three balls remaining.
Surrey had lost but you would not have known it looking at sections of the crowd - their loyalty to the home team was at best questionable and at worst non-existent. For many, the cricket was but a sideshow to the fun and games as the match wound to a close.
It was T20 as it was designed to be: high-scoring, high-octane, furious, manic, explosive and fun. Better a raucous stadium than an empty one.
It is the Blast's misfortune that just a fraction of its matches are televised because at The Oval the country missed the perfect occasion to kick off the most important season in the tournament's history. It wasn't watched by anyone outside of the 12,832 people in the ground. But the match showed what domestic T20 cricket in England can be. And it was brilliant.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket