Surrey CCC head coach demands strong finish to an “inconsistent season” for the club

BY MARCUS HOOK

Surrey head coach Michael Di Venuto says his side’s Vitality Blast T20 campaign bore worrying similarities with their showing this summer in the other two domestic competitions.

Surrey finished eighth in the South Group in T20. And they ended up one spot lower – rock bottom – in the Royal London One-Day Cup.

In the three County Championship matches that remain, the 45-year-old Tasmanian feels the manner in which the Oval outfit sign-off for the winter is far more important than the final number in the wins column.

Surrey are sixth in County Championship Division One. Last season’s title-winners are 71 points behind leaders Essex.

“It won’t necessarily be about getting wins, more about playing better four-day cricket,” said Di Venuto, who is approaching the end of his third season as right-hand man to director of cricket Alec Stewart.

“Like in the other competitions this season, we have been average in our four-day cricket – consistently inconsistent with bat, ball and in the field.

“It’s important that, day in, day out, for the next 12 days of championship cricket we turn up and play well as a team. If we do that, the results will go our way.”

Looking back on the Vitality Blast, in which Surrey missed out on a quarter-final berth despite winning four out of their last five group matches, Di Venuto said: “It has been a very disappointing T20 campaign, especially in the first half.

“It took us a long time to get going. At the start of the tournament our hands were probably tied a little bit as far as selection was concerned, with numerous players unavailable.

“We had a good idea in terms of the players that would be selected for England. We planned without having those guys. Injuries to batsmen, which don’t happen too often, really hurt us at the start of the competition, but we were still putting out good cricket teams.

“Once we got a team together, in the back half, we played much better. That just adds to the disappointment, because it was frustrating seeing what we could do.

Ollie Pope and Arun Harinath of Surrey play football during the training session at The Kia Oval on April 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Surrey CCC)

“At the end of the day we weren’t playing good enough T20 cricket. We had all the ingredients there, but, again, it was another disappointing T20 campaign.”

Surrey have not offered new contracts to opening batsman Arun Harinath and left-arm spinner Freddie van den Bergh.

Harinath, who made 66 first-class appearances for the Oval outfit, is on loan to Hampshire for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile van den Bergh, who had five first-class outings and the same number in one-day cricket, leaves on good terms.

“I have had a fantastic eight years at the club and been lucky enough to play cricket with some great players,” said the 27-year-old.

“I have made some amazing memories with the team, which I will look back on very fondly. Now it’s time to move forward with a new chapter in my life and I wish everyone at the club all the very best.”

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