The T20 Blast started for Essex with a Friday night match at the Cloud FM County Ground, London rivals Surrey were the opposition. That held double interest for me, I’m an Essex member and fan, but also a Surrey member so I have a regard for them too.
Ryan ten Doeschate won the toss and put Surrey in to bat, Jason Roy and Aaron Finch opened the batting, Roy’s form has been to say the least patchy in 2017, he scored runs in the ODI Final but is struggling to find the form that’s made him one of the best white ball batsmen in the country.
Mohammad Amir bowled his first T20 over and took his first T20 wicket as he caught Roy LBW for 4, his horror show continued! Surrey were 4 for 1, not the best of starts. Mark Stoneman who’s being spoken about for England in the long format of the game, faced 10 balls before his stumps were sent flying by Paul Walter, he had 4 to his name.
Aaron Finch however was in the mood for runs, he saw Rory Burns got for 6, bowled by Ashar Zaidi, before being joined by Dominic Sibley. Finch scored an entertaining 56 from 27 balls, hitting 6 fours and 3 mighty sixes, before Ravi Bopara came into the bowing line up. Bopara brings a different mix with the ball and he tempted Finch who hit a ball to Zaidi. Surrey were 76 for 4 in the 9th over. At this stage it felt like the Essex captain had made the right choice.
Ollie Pope came to the crease, it was interesting to see this bright young cricketer starting, another Surrey wicketkeeper I’d seen him bat for England U19’s against Sri Lanka last summer, he’s a bright prospect. However he too fell victim to Bopara, he hit a ball out to the boundary where Amir took the catch. It was good to see the camaraderie, it’s been a real feature of the Essex team in the County Championship this year, great to see newcomer Amir in the fold!
Surrey needed a partnership, step in another young Surrey man, Sam Curran, he’d scored 90 in Surrey’s first innings at the County Ground, batting most go the day with Kumar Sangakarra. Sibley and Curran out on 55 runs in 31 balls, with Curran making a very useful 25 runs in 22 balls. Ten Doeschate had been mixing it up with his bowlers, he brought 6ft 8 Walter back in, he bowled Curran.
In that mix up ten Doeschate brought himself on to bowl and took the wicket of Tom Curran with his first ball, inspired! Scott Borthwick joined Sibley , making 11 runs, In the meantime Sibley, still only 21 had made 61 from 40 balls, a tall man, he hit 3 fours and 4 sixes. All of this added up to 188 – a decent score leaving Essex with a required run rate of 9.4 per over.
As an Essex fan I felt quite optimistic about the chase, however the Curran brothers in particular had different plans. Captain Jade Dernbach opened the bowling with Sam Curran, Varun Chopra and Daniel Lawrence opened the batting. It was big brother Tom who struck first however, he bowled Chopra for 12, before his younger brother Sam had Lawrence caught behind by Rory Burns. Yet another Surrey glove man, I had no idea he was a wicket keeper!
Essex were 31 for 2 in the 4th over, Tom Westley put on a tidy 23 from 17 balls, hitting a four and 2 sixes to the delight of the lively Essex crowd, Ravi Bopara had come in at 4 and he had the innings of the night for Essex. Westley was bowled by Borthwick, a new player to Surrey this season, he moved from Durham in the close season, His brand of leg-break bested Westley. Essex were 3 for 76 in the 10th over.
Captain ten Doeschate joined Bopara, the pair have a habit of being involved in run outs, it was interesting to see Bopara taking charge and turning down tight runs. Ten Doeshcate scored 25 in 24 balls before falling LBW to Sam Curran. that meant Essex were 136 for 4 and needing 53 runs in 26 balls.
If anyone could do that it would be Ashar Zaidi, a small man with a very big hit! We got down to the final over and Essex needed 10 runs from 6 balls, step up the ice cool Tom Curran. T20 so frequently favours the man with the bat, but this young mad kept his cool , bowling Bopara for 75 with the 2nd ball of the over and Zaidi with the 5th! Essex needed 2 to win from the final ball, but Curran bowled a great ball and the win went to the visitors, to the disappointment of the majority of the crowd. That final over bowled by the 22 year old is proof positive that the future of English cricket is bright!