ONE more week of hard work and then that’s it – the end of the 2009 county season. We have a wide range of ages among the players at Surrey so we’ll all be up to various things when the final game at Leicestershire is over on Sunday. A lot of the senior players have young families so they will be heading off with them and the younger guys will be letting their hair down with a few nights out after a long, hard campaign. A lot of the guys are staying at home this winter, though, instead of playing abroad. I will be not be joining them, however, as I’ve got myself lined up with a club in Perth, Australia, where our skipper at Surrey, Stewart Walters, is captain-coach. It is odd when you’ve spent practically every day with these guys and then suddenly you’re not seeing each other so we’ll all make sure we email before we get back together ahead of the new season here. Going out to Oz will be a great learning curve for me
and I learned a lot last time I was out there during my gap year. It’s a very important winter for a lot of the young players at the club as it will be a much-changed team which takes to the field in the first game of 2010.
LOOKING back over the season there is no way around the fact it’s been very disappointing from a Surrey point of view. We’ve been pretty unsuccessful in all four competitions, despite some good performances in the County Championship. However the Brit Oval is a very difficult place to get 20 wickets so that goes some way towards explaining why we have won just one four-day match - and that was at Northampton. We’ve been reasonably unfortunate in one-day cricket, even if we were outplayed at times in the Pro40.
A COUPLE of innings of mine spring to mind as batting highlights of 2009 – against Worcestershire and Yorkshire in the Friends Provident Trophy back in the early part of the season. And just last week I batted for over three hours to help us save the Championship game against Northamptonshire at home. Bowling-wise my four for 30 against Kent in the Twenty20 Cup takes some beating.
AS WE prepare to go our separate ways for the winter, a final word for two of our unsung heroes at the Brit Oval, Mark Church and Steve Rudkin. These guys at Surrey TV regularly put in 12-hour days – so thanks for your hard work.
By Matthew Nash of the London Metro
ALTHOUGH it seems we are getting through a lot of players at the Brit Oval just lately, it’s obvious our cricket manager Chris Adams is searching for that winning formula - something which has deserted us for much of this season. We have had a lot of different cricketers here over the summer, which is not ideal, but we are not in contention to win anything now so it’s a good time for the coach to look at everyone. We have appraisals coming up in the next few weeks and hopefully it will mean good news. I’ve played all the one-day stuff this year and done okay in the Championship games I’ve had. There will be a few more signings, on top of the ones made already, but the key to any side is consistency and getting the right XI out on the pitch. The coach and the club are ambitious and they won’t want to settle for the sort of season we have had this time for much longer.
CHRIS has changed a lot of things since the start of the season but puts his faith in you to do the right things. We have some brilliant coaches at the club and on top of that now we have a nutritionist, who we all see once a month.
We now work far harder at getting into the right habits, although it will inevitably take some time before the results are seen on the pitch. The younger guys need to take a lead now and make a play for a place next season but the older guys also need to put the performances in too. Mark Ramprakash has sadly been out injured, which gave Arun Harinath his chance at No.3 against Gloucestershire last week. It doesn’t matter who you are, wherever you have played one Championship match or one hundred, replacing Ramps is no easy task and Arun did very well with an accomplished 44 in our second innings, although we did end up losing the game.
NO TEAM-mates in the Strictly Come Dancing line-up this year but I reckon it’s something Jon Batty would jump at the chance to do. JB fancies himself as a bit of a ballroom dancer and has even had lessons.
JB AND Michael Brown have really got an understanding going at the top of the order in our Championship side now and that really makes it a lot easier for us to come in lower down the order with some good runs already on the board. There's nothing to play for now as regards to winning a competition but it's about personal pride in your performances and putting yourself in the coach's mind over the winter. Surrey have taken a lot of stick for not producing good, young players but there is a lot of talent in our dressing-room and I think that point is underlined by the way our lads have reached the Second XI Championship final, where they play Lancashire next week.
IT HAS been grim on the pitch at times but the atmosphere off it has been very good. It’s easy to think it may be hard to get a social side up and running with the comings and goings we have had this campaign but it’s been very good; no bust-ups yet anyway!
By Matthew Nash of the London Metro
THERE was a bit of a fiery end to our Twenty20 Cup match against Kent at the Brit Oval last Wednesday with two incidents - the first involving Andre Nel and Kent's skipper Rob Key. The last thing I would like to do is end up starting on Andre but you want to see everyone giving their all and showing their passion. Key believed Andre was blocking off their bowler, Ryan McLaren, as he tried to cut out a quick single. Kent was furious but ended up winning as Jade Dernbach was run out off the last ball of the game with three runs needed for victory. Jade then had a few words of his own with their wicketkeeper Geraint Jones on what was a very tense evening; a win might have kept our slim quarter-final hopes alive. Going into the last over with eight required to win we thought we had pulled victory out of the bag but it was a very quiet dressing-room afterwards as the Spitfires won the game by just one run.
Defeat is harder to take when you have run the other team so close. But we're learning and improving, that's the main thing. However, having won our first two games in the competition and then finishing with a run of seven straight defeats it is very disappointing at the same time.
ON SUNDAY we put a very young team out at Beckenham in the return against Kent and, although we lost by 16 runs, we showed the potential of the players we have at Surrey. The likes of Simon King and Chris Murtagh got a run-out in the match and, at 22, I was one of the more experienced players in the team. Stewart Walters captained the side and, like a lot of younger players here, has only had limited first-team opportunities so far. Pace bowler Tim Linley has come in and earned a contract and is a very nice guy who deserves his chance too.
WE'RE obviously very sad that we won't be at Finals Day again this year in the Twenty20 Cup but there is always next season. At this club there is always massive expectation as there is such a fantastic history here but we're not quite performing as we would like at the moment.
THE Ashes is less than a week away and I'm looking forward to seeing Graeme Swann in action, as a fellow off-spinner. I bowled with him at Loughborough University during practice once and you have to watch the best guys and see how they do it. Every player's dream is to play for their country and I'm no different when it comes to my England aspirations.
By Matthew Nash of the London Metro