Surrey win toss elect to bat and by 11.11 are 11/1 which soon becomes 11/2! Jonathan Trott has been spotted here in Kent regalia – presumably in a coaching role?
An hour passes and Surrey limp to 43/4 off 13: Clark 7no Elgar 12no. What can I say? The bowling’s not especially ferocious, Kent are on their game but the ball is doing a little; Surrey are trying to force the rate but wickets slow everything down. The pitch has the occasional patch of misbehaving but we still have two slips in place at this stage (most unusual). The weather is forecast for showers and we have periods of very warm sunshine and then periods of cloud so grey and looming that they bring an air (and feel) of overcast November days to proceedings from time to time.
The gloom matches Surrey’s mood and given that this is probably the match to decide the last place in the South Division and with their recent form in this format being so poor, they have the wrong mindset- they look as if they would rather be somewhere else and with the threat of rain increasing by the minute, perhaps Surrey are hoping for a wash out?
The oddly shaped fixture list (I know that’s a difficult concept) means that we’ve just reached the start of May and the premier one day County tournament is reaching its denouement…odd I know, but nonetheless the crowds are turning out.
By the end of the second hour, the wheels have come off the Surrey innings along with brake failure, engine seizure and all four tyres punctured! They are 99/8 off 29 overs, Elgar the only one showing any sense of permanence or adhesion is 47no. The batsmen seem to want to give catching practice to the opponents – they’re caught between the need to score and the need to try and preserve wickets and overs and most are failing the tests. A score of 150 would be good given the circumstances but that may be beyond the capabilities of McKerr and Morkel!
One of the top floors of the Pavilion stand was taken over this morning by Sir John Major (oh…how lucky he must feel not to be having to work ‘in sight of the Oval and just up the road’!) and his initiative for the Street Kids World Cup – this is running in parallel to the large jamboree and money making Mens ICC World Cup and aims to raise the profile of the underprivileged children in Test playing countries – most of whom sleep and live on the streets (and don’t think the UK is immune…it’s just that we’re so ‘up ourselves’ with Brexit et al that the real world gets ignored). And teams from each of the World Cup nations are coming to the UK to have their own tournament and today the Bangladeshi street kids came along to the Oval – and seemed to be really enjoying themselves!
The cloud cover over the past hour adds to the Stygian gloom over the Oval and Surrey in particular – the forecast rain is due in the next hour and should last until late afternoon but I don’t think it, even if it arrives, will save Surrey.
One grumbles, dare one say, about the slogfests that the 50 over game has become so in a way it’s refreshing to see a low scoring game but the lack of application by the batsmen is concerning. They only seem to have one operating mode and the need to change gear or rather mindset is beyond them at the moment.
Just after the 35th over Surrey succumb to 127 Elgar making 62no – thankfully because the rest were ****! This should all be over by the start of the rush hour including 45 mins for lunch!
The Kent reply starts immediately and after 14 overs lunch is taken at 63/1 Renshaw 11no and Bell-Drummond 33no. Only 65 more required off 36 overs so this should be over by 4pm. Surrey continue their downtrodden outlook (not surprisingly after they’ve batted do poorly) but they’ve been affected by injuries, call ups and non-availability of players but nonetheless they may be trying their best but it’s not enough.
One of the delights of the Oval is its sheer friendliness and overall welcome to one and all and everyone being allowed on the outfield at lunch is just one of the differentiating factors. This impromptu game enthralled those wandering around and with vocal support from the spectators just adds to the feeling of welcome and inclusiveness- others please note!
There is nothing left to say – the game went beyond 4pm only because of a shower of rain just before 3.45pm – but it was beyond description. Kent won at a canter by some considerable distance. As I’ve said, today was more about the Street Kids World Cup and the school children playing on the outfield (the adults soon tired!) and with enthusiasm such as this for the game, then it’s in good shape.