With an 11-day gap between first-team fixtures, Surrey beefed up their side for the final second 11 game of the summer – a friendly against Worcestershire at Guildford last week, which the hosts won with a day to spare.
Ollie Pope, who has missed much of the season with a shoulder injury, seized the opportunity to follow up the unbeaten 221 he made against Hampshire in the County Championship recently with match-winning scores of 57 and 30 not out in what proved to be a low-scoring encounter.
The bowlers dominated as Worcestershire posted just 136 after electing to bat first – Rikki Clarke, Stuart Meaker, Scott Borthwick and trialist Dan Moriarty each taking two wickets.
Pope’s half-century enabled Surrey to counter with 120-8 declared before Jade Dernbach
(3-10), Meaker (3-11) and Clarke skittled Worcestershire out for 88 to leave the home side needing 105, which they knocked off in less than 20 overs for the loss of three wickets.
Surrey finished eighth (out of 10) in the South Division of this summer’s Second Eleven Championship – the stack of injuries the Oval outfit mounted up this season also having a knock-on effect in terms of that team’s prospects.
Surrey were forced to field 37 players across nine three-day Second Eleven fixtures. Only six appeared in five or more games – 19-year-old seamer Prince Singh and 21-year-old off-spinner Amar Virdi came closest to being ever-present with seven appearances.
Virdi has been named in the Oval outfit’s squad for the return clash with Hampshire in the County Championship, which gets underway today. But all eyes will be on Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes, who are rumoured to be in contention for recalls to England’s Test team now that Australia have retained the Ashes.
Foakes has averaged 41.50 with the bat in Test cricket but has been overlooked by England this summer. While Pope only managed 54 runs in two Tests against India in 2018, his two first-class double-centuries this year have put him right back in the reckoning.