Surrey vs Kent – T20

Friday 1st July 2022 – The Vitality T20 Blast – The Oval, London

It was as if we’ve never been away. A sunny Friday night’s cricket in front of a sell-out crowd at The Oval watching the oldest rivalry in county cricket. The result may have been irrelevant with Surrey already guaranteed a home quarter final and reigning champions Kent eliminated but that didn’t stop neither sides taking part in one of the best T20 games of the season.

Many of the 25,000-ish will have not experienced the “Kia Catch a Grand“ competition before. That was certainly the case for the group behind us until a huge shot from Kent’s Tawanda Muyeye skimmed over our heads, smacked a chap in the face, the ball rebounding straight into the pint of the guy next to him, which sent the contents into the lap of a third.

“You shouldn’t caught that mate – you’d have won a grand” we’re not words either of the three fans wanted to hear. To be fair you can’t really come to a packed T20 and expect to watch a lot of the cricket. The chatter, the constant getting up and down to let people pass, the constant threat of a rogue beer cup snake falling on you. Crowd watching is often more entertaining than the game itself.

But that wasn’t the case here as the crowd were treated to over 380 runs, 11 wickets, 23 sixes and four half-centuries, all washed down with over 50,000 pints of beer and hundreds of jugs of Pimms.

A further 22 sixes after the face/beer/trousers incident were dispatched into the crowd and only one of those was caught cleanly to win a £1,000. A few were caught second hand, palmed on from someone else but rules are rules and they didn’t count. Such a simple (but potentially costly for the sponsor) idea that kept the crowd interest up.

Kent’s problem this season had been their ever-changing top order had failed to deliver. With Bell-Drummond out of T20 favour despite a century in each innings against Surrey last week in the Couty Championship and Sam Billings on stand-by for the England Teat team, it would be a challenge against an impressive Surrey attack.

And true to form they lost their first wicket in the second over, Joe Denly departing for 5. But Muyeye and Cox then put on 75 in just six overs, probably one of the best partnerships for the Spitfires this season. Whilst the impressive run rate dipped slightly mid-innings, an impressive 25 ball unbeaten 50 from Alex Blake took Kent to 191 at the end of their innings.

The fans flooded out of the seats and onto the concourses as the innings ended. Whilst the Oval has invested heavily in the concessions and bars, the concourses in some places are very narrow and queues for beer, food and toilets all merged into one. Few emerged back with provisions in time for the start of the Surrey innings.

With roughly ten an over to aim for, Jason Roy smashed the first to balls to the boundary, the second a huge six (uncaught in the crowd) to provide a statement of intent that this was far from a meaningless game.

Roy looked in fine shape – great news for Surrey’s prospects in the final weeks of the competition and of course England. When he was the first wicket to fall, he’d scored 58 out of an opening stand of 69. He’d faced just 27 deliveries and hit five sixes. Will Jacks at the over end had just ten to his name.

Sam Curran came in and took up where Roy had finished. Despite Jacks falling to a smart stumping with the score at 91 off 9.3 overs, Surrey never looked like dropping the run rate. Curran’s 50 came off 29 balls (5 sixes), Laurie Evans 26 took just 13 balls and even a 7-ball 15 from Hardie saw them within touching distance of the 191 total with 2 overs to spare.

Curran was out with four runs still needed but Jamie Smith, who normally battled high up the order came in at number eight and took 3 balls to see Surrey home and guaranteeing top spot in the Southern table.

With one more game here at the Oval in the T20 few would bet against them being at Edgbaston in two weeks time for finals day and even then it’s hard to see who can stop Surrey apart from their own complacency.

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