Seven days in May…a sporting odyssey

Scott Borthwick’s frustration at not getting the decision he wanted!

Fixture lists, coincidence or happenstance mean that for seven days out of eight I have the opportunity to watch my two favourite sports live and local and with world class performers at each opportunity! How lucky is that?

This blog was intended to be more of a reflection of each event rather than any blow by blow account but once you get started (you know how it is…)

Day One – May 23…Oval, London Surrey v Gloucestershire Royal London one day cup 50 overs a side match.

This tournament is squeezed into three weeks for the league matches and just a bit longer for the knock out stages/final…and the final final at Lord’s. Pressure on the fixture list next year and the empty spaces at past finals means a move away from 2019.

Watching one day cricket takes getting used to after the intensity of four day championship games but, just like the players, it doesn’t take too long to adjust.

With both sides wearing black as their coloured clothing makes distinguishing between the two sides a bit of a challenge – coloured clothing was how the game was originally played so there’s nothing new there!

These games can follow a set pattern and become instantly erased from the memory as one morphs into the next but I shall do my best not to be too disparaging recognising that this format is different!

After an hour or so, Gloucestershire make sound progress and look on course to make 270-285 in their innings (incidentally where the time passing or scores are quoted I am writing contemporaneously). Surrey try a different technique for the ‘middle overs’ of having three spinners bowl the 20 or so overs and it seems to work well. Batty with all his experience, Jacks the new kid on the block whilst Borthwick is playing as an all rounder having started his career as a spinner. Jacks and Borthwick bowl at least one bad ball per over…the new kid is learning but Borthwick hasn’t…that’s why he only played one Test and now plays as a batsman and not a front line spinner- shades of Steve Smith?

As the day progresses, batting gets easier, the pitch less damp looking (but not wet in anyway) but Surrey hold fast and it looks as if Gloucestershire will be some 20/30 runs short of par. But then Dernbach comes back! One day he’ll realise that he’s not as good a cricketer as he thinks he is…and today is not that day but others do realise and he’s taken out of the attack having let Gloucestershire back into the game to end on 282/6 with Higgins 81no…a good knock, some sub-standard bowling and the odds look like favouring the visitors!

Surrey get off to the worst of starts losing Roy for a duck in the first over but Jacks and Elgar bring about a transformation – Surrey are clearly ahead within 30 minutes and even more so after the hour and beyond! Jacks goes to his hundred off 86 balls and 66% of his runs in boundaries – offering catching practice to the crowd too! Elgar uses his bat like a Wand Of Youth making a steady 50 and you begin to wonder where the next wicket is coming from? No sooner said than both Elgar and Jacks fall to shots trying to force the score – the former for 50, the latter for 121 off 100 balls. He strikes the ball well but can he stroke the ball? Would like to see him in the longer form of the game.

But Surrey soldier on after the loss of the wickets – Burns and Foakes and then Pope see them home and inside the allotted 50 overs so their net run rate should improve (it will help in the final reckoning I think for this South Division); the Gloucestershire body language implies that they gave up ages ago – the innings by Jacks was enough to discourage anyone…just like a de Villiers onslaught which we shall see no more (and no…Jacks is not the new AB).

International cricket is poorer through AB’s retirement but it had to come some time.

And talking of international cricket…off to Lord’s for the test tomorrow. Will this summer see the end of the road for one or more of Cook, Broad or Anderson; I think two are coming to the end of their run-ups but who takes their places?

Day 2’s blog…tomorrow!

And thanks to Wiki for helping me with the Elgar simile!

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