Royal London One Day Cup final preview
Expect an explosive Saturday as two teams with fire in their bellies faceoff in the final of the 2016 Royal London One-Day Cup, the domestic 50-over competition of England. Having fallen agonizingly short by 6 runs against Gloucestershire in the final last year, Surrey will now be aiming to make amends against a dangerous Warwickshire side that has reached the final on the back of some strong all round performances.
Warwickshire, who will be playing in their fourth final of England’s premier List A competition since winning the Clydesdale Bank 40 trophy (from 2006 to 2013 England had 40-over a side competition) in 2010, were the runner’s up in 2012 as well as in 2014. Surrey, meanwhile, were the champions of CB40 in 2011.
The secret behind the success of these two evenly matched sides this year has been the balance of their teams. Both teams have a right blend of experience and youth that have held them in good stead. When these two teams walk out on the field one last time in this season’s 50-over competition, the focus will quickly shift to the two veterans, Surrey’s prolific run-getter Kumar Sangakkara and Warwickshire’s run machine, Jonathan Trott.
Trott, a model of consistency
Last year, when a distraught Trott called time on his international career, it seemed his days on a cricket field were over. Once known to provide solidity to the England batting line-up, the polished right-hander seemed clueless against the West Indies. Five single-digit scores in six innings, which included three ducks, were atypical of a man who once had a calming influence on the dressing room due to his ability to bat for hours without breaking a sweat.
His struggles against the new ball pointed to signs that the batsman may not have fully recovered from a stress-related illness that forced him to take a break from cricket in 2013. A woefully out-of-form Trott looked all at sea in the Caribbean, and many believed that the Trott magic was over.
One year on, the phenomenal Jonathan Trott is doing what he is best known for: captivating crowds by accumulating runs in his typical, elegant style. In 6 innings at the Royal London One-Day Cup, Trott has struck three centuries and a 50 and aggregated 433 runs at an average of 72.16.
Once again, all eyes will be on Trott, who was also instrumental in leading Warwickshire to the final of the 2014 Royal London One-Day Cup, but failed to take them over the line as Durham won a low-scoring encounter. This time the 35-year-old will want to sign off in style, but standing between him and the silverware will be the Sri Lankan legend hurting from the outcome of last year’s final.
Surrey looked to be cruising with Sangakkara in control, but just when the Sri Lankan maestro got out for 60, the highest by any batsman in the last year’s final, the game began to slip away. Bitterly disappointed from last year’s missed opportunity, Sangakkara will want to end this season on a high.
The battle of one of England’s most technically correct batsman ever against one of the world’s all-time best cricketers will headline Saturday’s high-octane decider but the game will also be about two aggressive captains.
Surrey skipper Gareth Batty will be even more fired up after being recalled into the England team after 11 years. The 38-year-old wily off-spinner will travel to Bangladesh next month with the 17-man squad for the test series. While the fiery Batty will try to outsmart the threatening Warwickshire batting lineup, his counterpart Ian Bell will look to plunder the Surrey attack just the way he hammered the Somerset bowlers in the semifinals.
Bell’s unbeaten 94 helped Warwickshire to a total of 284 for 4 in 50 overs. Sam Hain (86) and Trott (44) were the other major contributors. In reply, Somerset’s inability to stitch big partnerships saw them struggling at 234 for 9 in 44.2 overs, before a mighty last-wicket effort revived their hopes; but an excellent final over from Oliver Hannon-Dalby ensured that Warwickshire survived the late scare.
Bell, an England legend overshadowed by the likes of Hain, Trott, and Tim Ambrose in List A cricket this season, has a knack of stepping up on big occasions and that was exemplified by his ruthless approach in the semifinal. The Warwickshire veteran, who captained his side to CB40 title in 2010, will once again be hoping to lead his team from the front and looking to add to his tally of 293 runs that have come at an average of 58. The 34-year-old will also be expecting his batsman to continue playing the way they have the entire season.
Of Woakes, Patel and Hain
The 21-year-old opener Hain is in the form of his life, leading the list of run-scorers with 528 runs at an average of 66. He has two centuries and three fifties to his name. Not far behind is the wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose (335 runs in 7 innings at 55.83) who has played a few gems in the middle order. Laurie Evans (257 runs at an average of 64 and a strike rate of 116) has established himself as a finisher of the side, providing some late-order impetus.
The return of Chris Woakes after a stellar summer with the national side will add more firepower to the lower middle order. The 27-year-old medium pacer who tormented Pakistan this year returns to Lord’s with fond memories. He picked 11 wickets in the first test against the Misbah-ul-Haq-led side and then finished with figures of 3-42 against the same opponents in the second one-day international at the “Home of Cricket.”
Woakes will strengthen a bowling attack that has been led by the experienced Jeetan Patel. With 20 wickets in 9 matches, the Kiwi sits behind Kent’s Matt Coles (24 wickets) in the leading wicket-takers’ list. The offspinner's first five-wicket haul in his limited overs career came in the semifinal when he ran through Somerset’s lower middle order, finishing with figures of 5 for 43 (all LBWs).
Patel will be the trump card for Warwickshire, who will also be hoping for young leggie Josh Poysdon to complement the senior pro. The other key components in the Warwickshire lineup will be the all-round skills of Ateeq Javid and the pace of Rikki Clark and Hannon-Dalby.
Sangakkara the key
Just like their opponents, Surrey boasts of an enviable batting line-up as well. A fast start from the explosive opening pair of Jason Roy and Steven Davies could easily dent the confidence of a decent Warwickshire bowling attack. Then there is the ever-reliable Sangakkara at No. 3, whose uncanny habit of turning matches was on full display in the quarterfinal when his 130 won Surrey a last-ball thriller against Northamptonshire.
The left-handed batting genius, who has more than 1,000 runs in the County Championship this season, has scored 257 runs in 6 innings at an average of 51 in the 50-over competition and will once again be the fulcrum of Surrey batting.
The Sri Lankan, however, failed in the semi-final against Yorkshire at Headingley, hitting straight to the cover fielder off the bowling of Tim Bresnan for 4. His wicket in the third oversaw the visitors reeling at 8 for 2. But, it was a strokeful century from opener Davies and an equally entertaining 90 from keeper Ben Foakes that took Surrey to a respectable total of 255 for 7 in 50 overs, which they defended with relative ease despite some late-order hitting from Tim Bresnan, Mathew Waite, and Will Rhodes.
Left-handed Davies, who will be leaving at the end of the season after a six-year stint with the county, has scored 373 runs in List A competition this year at an average of 41. Middle-order batsman Rory Burns, who hit four half-centuries, has compiled 271 runs at an average of 45. Davies’ opening partner, Roy, who missed the semis due to commitments with the national team, has accumulated 363 runs at an average of 45, but is yet to score a century.
However, he is in red-hot form this week, having scored a 120 and 96 in the four-day competition against Durham. Surrey went on to lose by 21 runs but will be hugely motivated by the performances of Roy and young Sam Curran, who picked up 7 wickets in the second innings and scored a 50.
Curran will be an important part of a bowling attack that will also include his brother Tom Curran and Stuart Meaker (16 wickets this season), both of whom played a vital role in the semifinal against Yorkshire. Surrey might also opt to play Zafar Ansari, another player to have earned a national call-up for the Bangladesh series.
The attack, however, will be spearheaded by the unstoppable Jade Dernbach who has picked 15 wickets in 5 innings at an average of 11.86 and an economy of 4.58.
The right arm pacer, who has mastered the art of death bowling, ripped through the Gloucestershire batting line-up in last year’s final, picking 6 for 35, including a hat-trick, and yet ended up in the losing side. This year he would be hoping for a different outcome and if Surrey is to lift the trophy, its strike bowler will have to deliver again.