THE ground was full, corporate punters were feasting, full parking facilities were available, a jolly crowd was impeccably behaved, our bowling and fielding had restricted Somerset to a gettable total (156) and a victory looked probable.
Then we batted! On a very slow Bristol wicket only Hamish Marshall played with the necessary judgment. Supported by the lower order (Howell and Fuller) he took us towards the Somerset total, but hired gun, Australian Dirk Nannes, fired out the tail.
Michael Klinger, Alex Gidman, Ian Cockbain and Chris Dent scored 30 runs between them. Look no further for a reason for our defeat. Twenty20 cricket is all about assessing the situation and taking responsibility. I look for our senior batsmen to do exactly that.
As the crowd faded away the treasurer Tony Elgood said: “At least, I am smiling.” I anticipate learning of record Bristol receipts, but we should have two points as well.
Two unfortunate circumstances have held our team back this season. The first concerns injuries, especially to bowlers. Craig Miles has yet to play; he has a bulging disc. Ian Saxelby is again injured as is David Payne. Benny Howell has just returned.
A rueful John Bracewell said: “At least we now know what the problem is with Criag.”
But he could not give a date for Craig’s return. His pace and penetration are certainly needed.
I am beginning to think the old players’ view, epitomised by Trueman F S and Bedser A V is right.
“We bowled a thousand overs a season and kept going,” is a fair summary of their thinking. The young men of today work hard at their fitness, but how often are they fit to bowl?
The other cause for irritation is umpires and their reluctance to get play underway after rain. I have watched a good part of three county games this season and in each one the officials, who are the sole judges of playing conditions, have erred on the side of caution, denying us spectators cricket and the players the opportunity to pick up championship points.
On the third day at the Oval only 17 deliveries were allowed. In my view at least 25 overs were possible. Overhead conditions were perfect for bowling and with Gloucestershire needing to take wickets they were denied the perfect opportunity. When play did resume on Wednesday batting conditions were perfect. Spectators and our players have been let down.
Despite the lack of cricket I enjoyed my Oval visit. What a fine cricket ground it is. In every room there is evidence of Surrey’s proud history. You enter via the Hobbs Gate, you can drink in the Bedser Lounge.
Whether you are there as a corporate or cricket guest you are impressed by the atmosphere. What an example it is for us to follow at Bristol with our handsome new facilities.
Former Glos batsman Chris Taylor is the fielding coach at Surrey and the son of all-rounder Kevin Curran is on the Surrey staff. They have abandoned the futile policy of buying in players and are now developing their own home grown youngsters. Someone at The Oval must read this column!