Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Gloucs Group 2 2021


Captain’s knock revives Surrey after table-toppers make early running

Surrey 285 for 5 (Amla 103*, Patel 62, Overton 50*) vs Gloucestershire

If Surrey supporters could name one thing that they missed most about not being able to come to the Kia Oval in recent times, the sight of Hashim Amla in full flow would surely have been high on the list. Amla has an imposing record on this ground, the scene of his unbeaten 311 for South Africa in 2012, not to mention a double-hundred against Hampshire a few weeks ago, and that aside there are few batters in world cricket so unarguably worth the admission fee.

Those who made the pilgrimage for Surrey’s encounter with Gloucestershire were duly rewarded. Amla moved serenely to the landmark during the dying embers of the day, as if to order for those wishing to slip in for a glimpse of greatness on their way home from work. Some 2500 were in the ground, and the majority of them rose to their feet as he stroked his 12th boundary through the covers, then removed his helmet to salute the four corners.

This was also a captain’s innings, with Amla taking over responsibilities from Test-match bound Rory Burns. Leading with the bat has always come naturally for Amla and, having started well by winning the toss, he coasted up and down through the gears as required to ensure Surrey finished the day ably placed – an unbroken century stand with Jamie Overton quietly closing the door on Gloucestershire after they had picked off the majority of the top six without too much damage.
Despite Ryan Patel’s neatly compiled half-century, Surrey had looked a little ill at ease on 181 for 5 approaching tea. Taking on the Group Two leaders, this is a game they arguably need to win to keep their prospects of being involved in Division One later in the summer alive; Amla’s third Championship hundred for Surrey (the first came back in 2013) ensured they were well placed to make good on the expected advantage of batting first on the same pitch as used against Middlesex last week.

Amla’s repertoire of silk and steel is well known, but there’s nothing wrong with playing the old favourites. His first boundary of the day was a wristy clip off Dan Worrall that perfectly bisected two leg-side fielders; a few overs later he eased on to the gas a little, pinging Worrall for four fours in 10 balls, daubing the canvas on either side of the wicket. Worrall, strong of shoulder and unruly of hair, looks rather like one of the bad guys from a 1980s high school movie – but the twinkling Amla nimbly gave him the slip.

The only blemish came during the evening session, when he attempted to back-cut the left-arm spin of Tom Smith only to edge a catchable chance to slip, which Miles Hammond put it down. Amla was on 76 at the time, and Gloucestershire may well have plenty more time left in the field to rue that miss.

Crowds had made their return in the previous round of the Championship, but here was a balmy south London day to create a genuine frisson of excitement among those trooping along the Harleyford Road, rucksacks full and straw hats in place, and plenty came to bask in late May conditions worthy of the name. One chucklingly referred to the hand “sataniser” dispensers dotted liberally around the ground; for Surrey, who have been off the pace in their group, the devil was in the detail.

There were six changes to the XI that went a long way towards winning and then almost managed to lose against Middlesex. Out went Burns, Ollie Pope and Kemar Roach to international duty, Ben Foakes to the treatment room after his hamstring tear, Jordan Clark and Reece Topley to the exigencies of rest and rotation. In came Patel, Laurie Evans and Will Jacks to fill the batting spots, with Sean Abbott, Roach’s replacement as overseas, and Overton as bolstering the seam department, and Dan Moriarty the extra spinner.

The initial exchanges hinted at an Oval surface of the most benign variety – although, already somewhat worn, Surrey will hope it offers a crumble of comfort for their trio of tweakers (Jacks’ offbreaks being a genuine consideration). Mark Stoneman clipped and cut efficiently to add 50 alongside Patel, before Ryan Higgins succeeded in dragging him across his crease before angling one back to hit the pads in front of leg stump.