Ben Foakes: Rest period for Surrey CCC has come at a perfect time

BY MARCUS HOOK

Surrey’s Ben Foakes has reflected on his first experience of captaincy at county level, after playing caretaker for Rory Burns in the Oval outfit’s weather-affected County Championship Division One draw against Yorkshire at Guildford.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Foakes underlined his continuing form with the bat, hitting a classy 62 in Surrey’s only innings at Woodbridge Road.

That followed half-centuries, one of them unbeaten, in Surrey’s previous two championship fixtures against Somerset and Warwickshire – games that ended in defeat. Indeed, the reigning champions are still winless after six matches in this year’s competition.

“I think it’s a good thing we are all getting a bit of a rest now,” said Foakes. “I’m sure some of us will try to get a few days away and hopefully some of our injured players will also be ready to come back when we resume the championship.

“We will be looking very much to start again and put some wins together. It’s initially just a question of trying to play some good cricket and concentrating on the game in hand, but it’s easy to get on a roll like Somerset have done in recent weeks.”

Batsman Scott Borthwick added: “There’s still a lot of four-day cricket to be played this season. We have eight matches to go, and four in the next month before the break for the Vitality T20 Blast.

“Win a couple of games and things will look a lot different and we can start to put some pressure on the sides at the top end of the table. What with all the bad weather, and some tricky pitches, in many ways it doesn’t feel as if the summer has really started yet!”

Foakes was delighted with the effort his injury-hit team had put in against Yorkshire, after taking over the captaincy following the late withdrawal of Burns with a stiff back.

Burns’ non-participation was purely precautionary, but his absence took the list of players either still injured, working their way back to full match fitness or unavailable on England World Cup duty into double figures.

Surrey will hope Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Conor McKerr and Amar Virdi will all be raring to go when they host Warwickshire at the Kia Oval on June 23-26 before travelling up to Scarborough for the rematch with Yorkshire a week later.

Curran and McKerr have missed the past two championship games with hamstring and heel complaints, while off spinner Virdi has yet to play for Surrey this season following a side injury, but has been bowling in Second 11 and club cricket.

Foakes said: “We batted very well in the conditions to get to 313 in our first innings against a good Yorkshire attack and Jamie Smith’s 56 on championship debut also underlined what everyone at the club already knows, which is that he is a big talent.”

Foakes also praised his quicker bowlers, led by Morne Morkel, who sliced through Yorkshire’s batting on the final morning to reduce them from an overnight 58-1 to 148 all out.

That enabled the skipper to enforce the follow on, with Yorkshire 165 runs behind and with 38 overs still left in the game, despite afternoon rain. But yet more bad weather brought a premature end to proceedings with Yorkshire 30 for no wicket after 13.3 overs.

A total of 56.3 overs were lost to rain and bad light on the last day and almost seven sessions during the entire match.

“Jordan Clark, in his first championship game for us, also showed by taking two wickets in two balls that he is a natural wicket-taker,” added Foakes.

“As for the captaincy, it was a very good experience and I enjoyed it even though it is something I haven’t done since I was about 11 years old. Keeping and captaining is certainly a bit different.”

AN OVER OF STATS

Ball 1 – Surrey’s Aaron Finch and Jason Roy share top billing for the highest individual score at the halfway stage in this year’s World Cup. Finch’s 153 off 132 balls for Australia against Sri Lanka at the Oval a few days ago followed up Roy’s 153 from 121 deliveries for England against Bangladesh at Cardiff.

Ball 2 – This year’s tournament is the first World Cup in which a serving Surrey player has hit a century; a bit like London buses – you wait for ages, then two turn up at the same time.

Ball 3 – However, the record for the most hundreds in a single World Cup is held by a player synonymous with Surrey – Kumar Sangakkara, who hit four in the 2015 tournament, en route to making 541 runs at an average of 108.20.

Ball 4 – This year’s Specsavers County Championship has seen 80 batting partnerships of 100 or more. Surrey, for all their woes, have conceded just two – The 102-run alliance between Essex’s Ryan ten Doeschate and Robbie White, plus the 128 between Kent’s Sean Dickson and Zak Crawley.

Ball 5 – Somerset, who look well on their way to snatching the title away from Surrey, are the only team to have been taken for fewer 100-run stands this term. The only one they have conceded was Rory Burns and Dean Elgar’s 166 for Surrey at Taunton.

Ball 6 – Surrey have now been asked to bat first on seven occasions following an uncontested toss, since the rule was introduced in 2016 to discourage the preparation of seamer-friendly ‘result’ pitches. The most recent was against Yorkshire at Guildford last week. The Oval outfit have won four and have only gone on to lose one of the seven; their first innings totals reading 329, 454, 399, 414, 459, 375 and 313.

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