I’m going to try to do this one differently, get the writing done before I tackle the photos (I took over 4000, they’re going to take some time!). I joined as a Surrey and England member before the last home Ashes, over those years I’ve managed to get to a few home games and therefore acquired one of those soft spots I have for a team that isn’t my first choice. My first choice county cricket wise is the county I was born and bred in, Essex.
I’d decided to miss Day 1 of this final county game, being a responsible adult, which isn’t something that comes easy to me when sport’s the other option! So, housework it would be for me, with the TV on in the background. What that actually meant was around 30 minutes doing house stuff, followed by most of the day watching the cricket!
The morning session was compelling stuff as the Essex bowlers pretty much demolished the Surrey batting line up! That involved lots of shouting in an empty room on my part, I’m sure my neighbours must wonder at times! Surrey were all out for 67 after 27 overs, with Jamie Porter taking 4 for 26, Sam Cook 4 for 27 and Matt Quinn back in the team took the balance of 2 for 10. Social media was talking of bad wickets and bad batting, and of course there’s always an element of the latter, but, this was largely good bowling.
The bad wicket thing can only really be judged after both teams have batted, in spite of this being September, and late September at that the weather really was cricket weather, rather than the rugby weather we had on Sunday. That added up to a wicket that changed as the day went on, it also lead to Essex finishing the day on 197 for 2. Class act Murali Vijay made 80 runs from 127 balls, and Tom Westley finished the day on 93 after Nick Browne was out for an early 2.
My first task on day 2 was to get to the Oval before Westley made his century, a drive to Shenfield to park (at £10.20 for the day!) a wait for a train, where I met Mike and Mary, fellow Essex members as I got on (what chance!) then a walk to Moorgate to get the tube. We arrived with Westley still on 93, phew! The moment wasn’t missed! Nor was Dan Lawrence being trapped LBW for 12 by Rikki Clarke. That put Essex on 205 for 3.
Mike, Mary and I were on a sun quest, we’d settled quickly in the pavilion to catch the Tom moment, but wow that was chilly, we then edged our way round the Peter May stand, sitting in various seats during the overs, to sit at the furthest point possible without missing a ball.
Ravi Bopara had come in at 5 , he made a century against Worcestershire last week, but was in his gung ho persona on this day at the Oval against the young spinner Amar Virdi. I once got a great photo (even if I do say so myself) of Bopara being stumped, you just know when he goes dancing down the wicket things aren’t going to end well. In this case Virdi bowled him for 8. He and Westley had put on 31 and Essex were now 236 for 4.
Captain Ryan ten Doeschate was up next, he looked assured at the crease, and was in need of a good innings. He made 27 including 5 Fours before a ball from Jade Dernbach was caught by Ollie Pope, Essex middle order wasn’t going so well, they were now 276 for 5.
Tom Westley was batting as well as I’ve seen him bat this summer, he reached his top score of 2018 with 134, taking him to 667 so far. There were 2 balls left before lunch when Rikki Clarke struck again and had him caught by Ben Foakes. It’s amazing how many wickets fall just before or just after a break. Westley had played a superb innings, he seems to thrive when he was a top class player at the other end with him. Next year with Alastair Cook likely to be opening, he should regain the form that saw him picked for his country. Lunch saw Essex on 282 for 6, a lead of 215.
Adam Wheater and Simon Harmer were at the crease after lunch, my first visit to Essex in 2011 involved watching Wheater scoring a century alongside James Foster, a complimentary ticket, I bought a membership the following year, food for thought for the club.
Back to the cricket, Wheater and Harmer had fun at the crease, both batted with some ease, Wheater however was hit by the ball just before tea, he received some attention on the field but failed to return after tea, retiring hurt on 68. Jamie Porter and Sam Cook added 1 apiece before Dernbach despatched them both. Essex were 456 for 8 and Simon Harmer was on his way to a well deserved century. It was a joy to see him celebrate when he reached that milestone, he’s been a great signing for Essex and has shown promise with the bat since he joined. Essex declared on 477 for 8.
I’d been joined at tea time on Day 2 by Tim, someone I’ve interacted with on Facebook when chatting cricket, we haven’t always seen eye to eye if I’m honest, but its amazing how different it is when you meet someone in real life, we had a very convivial couple of hours.
How would the Champions reply? Well, with some style of course, they aren’t the 2018 champions by fluke. Essex emerged with Michael Pepper behind the stumps and Matt Coles in the field for Sam Cook, as a concussion replacement Coles would play a full part. Rory Burns wasn’t to ‘go big’ in this match, but he did add another 21 runs to his tally for the summer, finishing with 1359 runs for 2018. Highly impressive stats for the Surrey captain, here’s hoping he has a fantastic winter away with England. Burns was caught and bowled Jamie Porter.
Mark Stoneman who’d had a fairly torrid time with England and Jason Roy who’s often spoken of as a potential top order batsman for his county at test as well as ODI level were at the crease. And wow they both made the most of what was clearly a good batting track. the pair put on 181 highly entertaining runs, Roy doesn’t do boring cricket! Some stats to share on these 2 innings, slightly out of sync, but they’re an indication of what they looked like.
- Mark Stoneman – 86 runs from 167 balls in 252 minutes including 12 Fours and 1 Six.
- Jason Roy – 128 runs from 151 balls in 188 minutes including 19 Fours and 2 Sixes
Jason Roy could only hold back his natural instincts for so long however, he attempted to hook a ball from Matt Quinn and was caught by substitute fielder Aron Nijjar, he was on for crocked batsman Vijay Patel who’d taken a hit to his knee. Roy’s exit saw Ollie Pope’s entrance, another man involved with England over the summer, he really showed those gathered at the Oval what he could do. I first saw Pope batting for England U19’s against India in 2016, he scored 87 runs to give some respectability to the England performance, he looked class then and he certainly looked class in this second Surrey innings.
As several people have suggested on social media Pope looks to be the closest to Ian Bell that we’ve seen, he’s a really exciting prospect, I really hope England manage him well, he could well be an international star for years to come. I’m going to have to share Pope’s stats too, which again will put things in context.
- Ollie Pope – 114 runs from 120 balls in 143 minutes, including 19 Fours and 1 Six.
4 of those Fours came from 4 consecutive balls from Ravi Bopara, he bowled one horror over which brought 17 runs, Bopara can often change things round and take a wicket when needed, this time he was mullered!
Back to the proper sequence of events, Stoneman had looked well on his way to a deserved century but along came that man Simon Harmer with a ball that befuddled him, he was bowled and clearly hugely disappointed. Ben Foakes, who started his cricketing life at Essex, joined Pope. I was very sorry to see Foakes leave Essex, but with James Foster ahead of him the move to Surrey was the best for his own development, he’s turned into one of the best glove men in England. His batting is non too shoddy either, he and Pope put on 115 before Foakes was trapped LBW by Quinn for 32.
Enter another Surrey Academy product, Will Jacks he isn’t 20 until later in the year, Ollie Pope is 20, Surrey have brought through some very talented young cricketers. Essex were struggling to find wicket and Pope was involved in another good partnership, he and Jacks put in 54 before Coles finally took Pope’s wicket, he too was trapped LBW. Surrey had moved to 418 for 5. Pope was clearly disappointed to be out, in spite of his century.
The lead was a small one by the time Pope was out, there was still work to be done. Jacks was joined by Ryan Patel, another 20 year old, the 2 batted solidly and saw the day out frustrating the Essex bowlers, who seemed to lose Jamie Porter for a while after he jarred his knee. Matt Coles in particular seemed to be an angry man as he railed at the young batsmen after virtually every ball, it wasn’t a good look and it certainly didn’t get him a wicket.
The Surrey End of Season Player Awards took place in the evening after Day 3, I paid my £10 to go along, it was an entertaining evening with much to celebrate, highly inclusive and accessible to members. It was great to see the success of 2018 celebrated and the likes of Ollie Pope and Rory Burns receiving their deserved accolades. The Surrey Stars also had their time in the spotlight. I didn’t get home until nearly 11 and told myself I couldn’t be doing that journey again in the morning. When I woke up I told myself I just couldn’t miss this last day of the season. How glad I was I made that decision!
Day 4 saw Matt Coles concentrating on his bowling rather than his temper, that yielded results for Essex he had Jacks caught by Simon Harmer for 53. Rikki Clarke had tormented Essex at Chelmsford and he did the same at the Oval. He made 39, including 7 Fours before he was caught from the bowling of Coles. Morne Morkel arrived to cheers and left 2 balls later as he was caught by Browne from the bowling of Cole.
Ryan Patel who’d batted very patiently, for nearly 3 hours made 38 runs from 138 balls, he too was caught from the bowling of Coles, that was a 5fer for the concussion replacement. Jade Dernbach’s was the last wicket to fall as he was bowled by Jamie Porter for 2. Surrey were all out for 541, a lead of 131. I was with a fellow Essex fan, Tony, he was listening to the radio, they confirmed that Coles had been getting movement from the pitch, what could Morne Morkel do? Could he bowl his team to an unbeaten summer in the County Championship?
A word for the weather before I go into Essex’s second innings, it was, magnificent! I went full strapless dress and was still hot! This was September 26th bear in mind, thank you the Weather!
Nick Browne and Murali Vijay appeared to open the batting, Vijay hadn’t fielded at all after his knee had taken a knock, but here he was! I’ve found the relevant Law and it seems that ‘external’ injuries that occur during the game put a totally different slant on a players absence in the field. The relevant Law is below:
24.3 Penalty time not incurred
A nominated player’s absence will not incur Penalty time if,
24.3.1 he/she has suffered an external blow during the match and, as a result, has justifiably left the field or is unable to take the field.
Nick Browne had left the field for a while that morning and he didn’t look comfortable, he was rubbing his hip, so with Vijay’s knee and Browne’s hip (likely) they at least wouldn’t run each other out! Brought in for the final 3 games Vijay was an inspired signing, and was instrumental in moving Essex clear of the danger area in the league. He looked to be in considerable discomfort and had faced only 5 balls when he fell victim to Morkel, bowled for 2. Not an ideal start.
Tm Westley had found his form in this second part of the county summer, but runs weren’t going to come easy in this innings. Nick Browne was caught by Rikki Ckarke from the bowling of Amar Virdi, the field set by Rory Burns to the spinner was one designed to intimidate and it surely did! It was a field I’d have liked Joe Root to have emulated when Moeen and Rashid were bowling at The Oval!
Essex were 25 for 2, they needed another 107, easy right? Well, no. Dan Lawrence who’s had a difficult summer was also caught by Clarke, this time form the bowling of Jade Dernbach, he’d made only 10. 42 for 3! Ravi Bopara, he of the 17 runs from 1 over (to his detriment) had scored 8 in the first innings, 8 more than he managed this time round. Virdi’s second wicket he was caught by Will Jacks and Essex were 47 for 4, 85 required.
This was getting to be edge of the seat stuff, and for some strange reason I turned into my rugby persona and became all shouty, for some reason I felt I had to match those shouting encouragement to Surrey, you can take the girl out of Essex, but………
Tom Westley was next to go, he’d made 20, but was caught by none other than Rikki Clarke! Dernbach the bowler, 55 for 5, my knees were going ten to the dozen by this point! I was more than happy to see Surrey life the trophy this summer, but I wanted Essex to win this one!
Another man with an ‘external” injury was next up, Adam Wheater joined his captain Ryan ten Doeschate, but, inevitably, not for long! That man Morkel struck again as Wheater was caught by Ryan Patel, then he went again as Simon Harmer was out for a Duck caught by Ben Foakes. That all added up to 97 for 7, Essex needed 35, Surrey needed 3 wickets, which team would prevail?
Matt Coles as a concussion replacement for Sam Cook was able to bat, he knows how to swing a bat so I felt Essex would be fine, except ten Doeschate went for a crazy extra run and some very fine fielding from Will Jacks resulted in Coles being run out, enter angry Matt Coles again, he’ll need the winter to get his blood pressure lowered! 111 for 8 – Nelson’s!!!
One wicket left, 21 runs required, ‘put your faith in Matt’ was my mantra, alongside various random shouts. Poor Quinn was hit on the helmet by a Morkel ball, he was also hit on the hand. The former looked nasty and we did wonder if he’d have to retire hurt, but phew, no, he lived to be hit on the hand and to be bundled over by a virtual no arms rugby tackle by Jade Dernbach as another risky run was taken.
5 runs required, 1 wicket needed, Ryan ten Doeschate hadn’t looked incredibly comfortable but, he was approaching his half century and it was a Four from his bat that took him there, it also took his team to the victory, Surrey’s unbeaten run was broken.
I seem to have written a virtual novel here so I’m not going to linger on the presentation of the trophy other than to say, Congratulations to Surrey on the Championship! Congratulations to Essex on this win, and roll on April 2019!