21st June 2015
Sunday morning at Waterloo with the station quite empty at ten o’clock; it certainly felt as if we had been here before with the last player in the team rushing up to the ticket barrier only just in time. This despite delaying boarding as several others had made use of the newly opened M&S store; or enjoyed hearing about the medals won at the Metro athletics the day before.
Passing the barrier was easy – it seemed too easy as there was no need to be at the front – the guard explained that although the train would normally split it was staying together at Woking this week due to engineering work on part of the line so the team could have boarded anywhere. At Farnborough the efficient cabs were waiting – but we have been here before as one driver had to wait as more retail therapy was undertaken at the station bar.
The early morning grey clouds had been blown away by the stiff wind that was to be a feature of the day and with blue in the sky the sun warmed the players as they went through their meticulous preparation under the watchful eye of stand in skipper Chris. Then there came the unexpected moment; as the captain’s briefing had only dealt with likely situations there had been, of course, no preparation for the daydream moment of a head appearing when called. Chris had to think quickly on his feet and decided that, with a T20 win possible whenever you bat, the Devils would try to impose scoreboard pressure on the home side.
He opened with Brenda and this pair delivered the start wanted by Metro racing to 92 from eight over before Chris had to retire having scored his 50 from 37 balls. The rate slowed a little as Andy joined Brenda in the middle and the well organised Surrey fielding put pressure on with Surrey’s totals – Hassan and Joshua both bowling good spells with several dots. However they were not able to take wickets so the next batting change came with Brenda’s retirement as she reached her 50 as the Surrey captain came on to bowl.
He struggled with his length delivering no balls to both batsmen as Gary raced to 28, getting the run rate up above 11 an over again, before he mis-timed a trademark on drive and was bowled by Lois – the wicket falling at 193. Aemon however had licence to hit out in this situation and with a mix of shots, including his favoured switch hit, scored 27 – almost overtaking Andy as the final total was an imposing 240.
There was plenty for Metro to consider over the high quality tea though; Charles had picked up an injury running so fielding plans had to be reviewed as he needed to keep; weakening the outfielding. As Surrey started with a left – right combination more pressure was put on the fielders, perhaps especially Brenda as she raced from side to side of the ground top stay on the mid-wicket boundary.
The Devils however kept the pair fairly quiet and bowled with few extras early on to keep the run rate under 10; it was starting to creep up when the wicket most wanted by the visitors fell as Lois just tickled Chris’s fourth ball through to the keeper; 89 for1. However that just brought Hassan to the crease eager to outscore Andy and determined to make a clear case that he should be Metro’s first choice to bat at 3 in the national league. He helped up the rate so that yes, at drinks, we had been here before as Surrey had matched exactly Metro’s 110.
The question was could they keep up the scoring rate especially as shortly after the break their captain had to retire on 50. Hassan just kept up the assault with shots played all round the park, leaving Surrey only just behind where the visitors had been after 17. His retirement shortly afterwards having reached 52 from 37 balls left just too much to do for the lower order Surrey players as Chris and more especially Charles kept it tight in the final three overs – with only 6 scored off the final over Surrey fell 23 runs short. That leaves the Devils to face Gloucestershire in a first semi-final at Highgate on Saturday 1st August.
On the evidence of this game all those who turn up as spectators for that match will be in for a real treat as the Growlers are riding high in the league this year and the Devils will now be confident that they can retain their T20 crown.
Before that all are welcome to the Chairman’s friendly on the 4th July; what better way to celebrate Independence day?
– Article by Paul Toplis