Pro40 Division Two (at Edgbaston): Surrey 238-5 bt Warwickshire 217 by 21 runs.
Warwickshire have been left with “19 days to define their season” according to their director of cricket, Ashley Giles.
Defeat at the hands of Surrey has left Warwickshire’s NatWest Pro40 promotion hopes hanging by a thread and Giles knows that if his side don’t achieve a least one promotion in the next few weeks his first season in office will be viewed as a disappointment.
Recent performances are not encouraging. They’ve lost their last couple of List A games and been forced to fight for draws in the last two championship games. Giles admits that is a concern, but knows that all will be forgotten if his side can regroup over the last few weeks.
“We have 19 days of cricket left,” Giles said, “and everything depends upon how we do now. You can take away the [batting] averages or the amount of wickets: it’s all about where we finish in the table.
“We’re in the pound seats [in the Championship]. We should get promoted. We’ve played really good cricket to get in this position but we seem to have chocked a little bit and we need to kick-on again now.
“As for the Pro40, we’ve got to win every game now and still hope that other results go our way. It’s going to be really tough and that’s disappointing.
“We do seem to have faded a bit [in recent weeks], but I’m struggling to put my finger on the reason. Everyone outside the dressing room is talking about what happened last year, but I don’t think that’s anything to do with it. It could be that it’s been used as a bit of an excuse. I won’t accept tiredness as an excuse, either. Everyone is fit and I’ve made sure they’ve had time off throughout the season. In fact the players should be looking forward to these 19 days.”
One issue that might well be reviewed before next season is the captaincy. While Darren Maddy is clearly a fine fellow with the best of intentions, his captaincy record (double relegation) is poor. Some of his bowling changes are close to unfathomable and it is surely more than coincidence that Warwickshire’s only really good spell of limited-overs cricket this season came when Ian Westwood or Ant Botha were in charge.
To be fair, Maddy was not well supported by his seamers against Surrey.
While Chris Martin produced another well controlled spell, Chris Woakes was not as tight as all have come to expect and Neil Carter was hit for four boundaries in his opening over in punishment for dropping short.
Tim Groenewald, who delivered a good opening spell (six overs for 21) then conceded 21 from a single poor over when he was preferred for ‘the death’ overs ahead of Martin.
The result was that Warwickshire squandered the excellent work of their spinners. Ian Salisbury and, in particular, Botha both delivered tight spells and put such a break on the scoring that Surrey scored only 53 in 15 overs when they bowled in tandem.
Botha struck with his first delivery, defeating Stuart Walters’ attempted cut, while Salisbury had Usman Afzaal caught at long-on and James Benning caught at mid-on as he mis-timed a pull.
The seamers could not maintain such standards, however, and 80 runs were plundered from the final eight overs as Mark Ramprakash (54 not out off 45 balls, four fours and a six) and Matt Spriegel (40, 30 balls, a four and three sixes) took advantage of some loose bowling. Both are fine players, but Warwickshire made life far too easy for them with Groenewald repeatedly delivering leg-stump full tosses to Ramprakash, while Spriegel drove successive sixes off Jonathan Trott when he failed to find a full enough length.
Earlier Benning provided the early impetus for the visitors. Though he hardly moves his feet, Benning (74, 79 balls, nine fours) deals with the short ball ferociously and punished Carter and Woakes particularly brutally as Surrey posted 105 from the first 17 overs. Despite the spinners’ control in min-innings, Surrey still scored around 20 more than par on another sluggish pitch.
Warwickshire still might have won, however. This Surrey attack is as impotent as any in the country, lacking any real spin threat, and their fielding is remarkably poor. So when Trott and Jim Troughton were in the process of adding 98 in 16 overs for the second wicket, it appeared Warwickshire were well on track.
They have become uncomfortably reliant on Trott, however. Though he has grown into a high-quality player in all forms of the game, picking up runs with rare ease, many of his team-mates lacked the composure to help him secure the win.
Though Troughton was beaten by a fine piece of bowling, drawn into coming down the pitch by a flighted delivery that then turned sharply, both Maddy and Tim Ambrose picked out fielders in the deep with somewhat thoughtless strokes. Carter had already guided one to point, before Westwood chipped to mid-wicket and Salisbury and Botha both fell to catches at long-on.
All relied upon Trott (92, 99 balls, nine fours). But when he fell to an outstanding catch by Surrey ‘keeper, Jon Batty, it ended Warwickshire’s hopes and means they are now almost certain to spend the final year of 40-over cricket in the lower division. For a club with such a proud record in limited overs cricket, that is a major disappointment.
Meanwhile, Giles confirmed that Tony Frost will play as a specialist batsman in the Championship game against Derbyshire that starts on Wednesday.
Frost is preferred to the out of form Navdeep Poonia, while Warwickshire will again field both spinners. That means that one of the seamers will miss out.