BY MARCUS HOOK
A frustrated Michael Di Venuto did not hold back in his appraisal of Surrey’s performance on day one of the ongoing County Championship clash with Warwickshire at the Oval.
The Tasmanian, who is now in his fourth season as Surrey’s head coach, described it as “one of the worst days I’ve seen us have.”
It ended with the visitors, having skittled out Surrey for 194, just 105 runs behind with nine first-innings wickets intact.
“It was a poor day, absolutely,” said Di Venuto. “I was pleased with how we bowled in the last 10 overs there, but, other than that, we were poor.
“We knew how the wicket was going to play, the ball’s allowed to swing and seam and we probably would have chosen to bat first as well. But, as we’ve seen in the last few weeks, it was another case of batters getting in but then just giving their wickets away.
“That’s the worst pattern that’s come into our cricket. People are going to get knocked over in these conditions and a couple of unlucky dismissals – that’s going to happen, that’s part of the game – the frustrating part is seeing guys get starts and then just giving their wickets away. And, then, for the first 10 overs of their innings, we were shocking with the new ball.
“With the overheads the ball probably swung a bit more on Sunday morning. But we expected that. It’s a day one wicket, so, obviously, it was going to need some tough work.
“In the past we’ve been quite happy to bat first in tough conditions, but at the moment we seem to have lost that bit of toughness and that bit of steel that we’ve shown in recent years. We haven’t had someone score a hundred for over a month, which is unlike us.
“Last year, we were regularly 100-4 and someone like Ollie Pope would come out and get a hundred and have a partnership with someone, and change a potential score of 250 into 400. We’re not getting those partnerships, which is disappointing for such a talented group of players.
“There’s obviously a lot of cricket left to play in this game, but we’ve got to continue how we finished the day with the ball and with the bat we’ve got to get back to batting the way we can bat.
“It’s important we put Sunday behind us and come prepared to play some good cricket over the next three days.
“With the ball, we’ve got to stick to the process we do when we’re bowling well – bowling in partnerships and building pressure, that’s what creates wickets.
“There’s a talented group of players in that dressing room, but we’re playing some poor cricket. We’ve just got to be better.”
AN OVER OF STATS
Ball 1 – Scott Borthwick is Surrey’s best batsman this season, according to the MVP rankings produced by the Professional Cricketers’ Association. Borthwick is averaging 9.18 batting points per match. Next best for the Oval outfit is Rory Burns, with an average of 8.60 points. However, topping the overall table are Yorkshire’s Joe Root (26.26), Essex’s Varun Chopra (18.33) and Gary Ballance (13.33), also of Yorkshire.
Ball 2 – The best bowlers in the MVP rankings are Sussex’s Ollie Robinson (20.85 points per match), Lancashire’s Richard Gleeson (19.20), Warwickshire’s Jeetan Patel (18.60) and, in fourth, Surrey’s Matt Dunn (18.01). Dunn is out with an injured ankle, but his highest-rated team-mates with the ball are Tom Curran (13.67), who is away with England’s World Cup squad, and Morne Morkel (12.25).
Ball 3 – Surrey’s Dean Elgar has the dubious distinction of having the lowest batting average of all the players to have hit a first-class hundred this season. The South African averaged 18.88 prior to the current round of County Championship matches, 103 of his 170 runs having come in the first innings against Somerset at Taunton six weeks ago.
Ball 4 – The next two up at the bottom of the list play for Warwickshire, against whom Surrey are currently doing battle at the Oval. Adam Hose, who made a ton against Notts, was averaging a meagre 21.45 and the former England wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose was going along at 22.09, despite a century against Kent.
Ball 5 – If Surrey think they have injury problems, Warwickshire arrived at the Oval a couple of days ago with just three fit and established bowlers – skipper Jeetan Patel and seamers Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Craig Miles. That’s because Chris Woakes is on World Cup duty, Henry Brookes it out with a hip, Liam Norwell a hamstring, Ryan Sidebottom a shoulder and Olly Stone (back) hasn’t played since pulling out of England’s tour of the West Indies in January.
Ball 6 – This is by no means Surrey’s slowest start to a County Championship season. In 2008, they went through the entire campaign without winning a match. In terms of their longest wait for a first championship win – disregarding 2008, of course – in 2013 the Oval outfit didn’t break their duck until 1 September. The next longest were in 1972, when the first win arrived on 14 July, and in 2007, when it took them until 10 July.