Roy transcends conditions to lift Surrey off the bottom
Surrey 146 for 8 (Roy 61, Cosker 4-25) beat Glamorgan 127 (Mahmood 3-14) by 19 runs
It was revealing that when Jason Roy reached his fifty almost no one in the crowd or the stadium announcer, noticed. That should not be interpreted as a criticism--at least not in cricketing teams--rather on a pitch that was very difficult to bat on, and especially come in on, Roy's unusually subtle approach was in fact pivotal to his success.
On a day when no other batsman scored more than 31, Roy's 61 was nothing short of outstanding and was the decisive factor in a victory impossible to overstate the importance of for a Surrey team languishing at the bottom of the South Group. Azhar Mahmood's outstanding four overs which reaped 3 for 14 were also pivotal in Surrey's victory but while he, like all the bowlers, used the conditions to his advantage, Roy countered them, making his innings all the more impressive.
Both teams appeared to judge the nature of the pitch accurately and quickly, recognising early on that aggression was best channelled with care, but Roy was perhaps the only player capable of executing such an approach.
That he hit three sixes, one a brutal straight strike into the River Taff, suggests that this was a pitch that once settled upon, once at ease with, was not overly difficult to unfurl strokes on, if only you could get through the initial early phase. Roy's 47-ball 61 was 41 more than any of his team-mates managed.
Generally Roy batted with care, facing 16 dot balls, picking off singles with ease, scoring 22 of them, and choosing his moment to attack sensibly. He never scored consecutive boundaries. Roy was a class apart from any of the other batsmen on a day dominated by the ball. Other than Roy, only Dean Elgar and Gary Wilson managed more than 10 for Surrey and both of them did so at a run-a-ball or less.
Given their recent form it was almost painfully inevitable that once Roy got out Surrey would slide away. Having been 104 for 1 after 13.2 overs they scored just 42 for 7 from their final 6.4 overs. Glamorgan did bowl well on a two-paced pitch but it seemed that it was little more than Surrey's lack of confidence and indeed time at the middle that was the principle reason for their struggles.
Dean Cosker, who took 4 for 25 to follow up his 4 for 30 in the record-breaking equivalent fixture at The Oval earlier in the season, bowled nicely but there was a sense that his wickets were almost too easy. Batsmen were caught two thirds out in the deep and Mahmood was stumped as Surrey recklessly attacked looking for more than was in hindsight needed.
Glamorgan's spinners, Cosker, Colin Ingram and Andrew Salter, bowled 11 overs between them and conceded just 68 runs for their seven wickets.
In the innings interval it felt like Surrey were under-par, but Roy's innings, rather than being the mean, was in fact the extreme, and it did not take much of Glamorgan's response for that to become evident.
Although the fourth over of their run-chase, bowled by Tim Linley, was taken for 20, other than that none of the other five Powerplay overs went for more than seven and within them Glamorgan lost three wickets.
It was the canny medium pace of Mahmood that really turned the match, however. After ending the fourth over 41 for 1 Glamorgan were on track for victory but Mahmood was then introduced into the attack and delivered a maiden straight away.
Bowling off a very short run-up, no more than seven or eight paces, Mahmood, using the crease well and delivering canny cutters, beat the Glamorgan batsmen outside off stump with almost absurd regularity. Chris Cooke was run-out at the non-striker's end the over after Mahmood's maiden and quite suddenly Glamorgan appeared to panic. Two more wickets followed in Mahmood's next over which went for just two and having been 41 for 1 Glamorgan ended the seventh over 46 for 5.
It was telling that then Glamorgan continued to fight on, batting not aggressively but decidedly carefully, and with fewer and fewer wickets in hand that was their only option. If Roy's innings had not already made it clear the lower-order resistance put on by Glamorgan certainly did, this was a pitch that required not aggression but abstention. If a batsman wanted to hit a six or a four, he was probably wrong - and should try and do something else.
Other than Linley all of Surrey's bowlers were impressively economical, but it was not so much their bowling that will stick in the mind, as much as it was Glamorgan's batting. After winning the toss and electing to bowl, Glamorgan had a huge advantage in knowing what they had to chase and despite Roy's standout innings they should have got closer than they did. They eventually fell 19 runs short and have now lost three matches in a row.
Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket