Meet the Opposition: Surrey


It is almost time to walk out at The Cloudfm County Ground again for the opening Vitality Blast match of the season on Friday night. Surrey are the visitors and make the short trip for their first game of the competition.

The two sides always produce excitement with Surrey coming out on top last season. Here’s the low-down on Friday’s opponents…

T20 Titles: 1 (2003)

Trips to Finals Days: 6

Coach: Michael Di Venuto – Has been quietly effective in charge at the Kia Oval since his arrival in 2016, with last year’s Specsavers County Championship title the biggest feather in his coaching cap to date.

Captain: Jade Dernbach – Has not played yet this season in any format due to his rehabilitation from a long-term calf injury but the 33-year-old pace bowler, with 58 England white-ball caps, impressed as Surrey’s short-form captain last year.

Overseas players: Aaron Finch (Australia), Imran Tahir (South Africa)

The Narrative: Since winning the inaugural Twenty20 Cup in 2003 the Brown Caps have been runners-up twice, in 2004 and 2013, and also made Finals Day appearances in 2005, 2006 and 2014. Since then they have suffered short-form frustration, including just missing out on a quarter-final place last season. But the winter signings of Liam Plunkett and Jordan Clark, and the arrival of leg spinner Imran Tahir as overseas player alongside Australian batsman Aaron Finch, who returns for a fourth successive season, boost an already highly-talented squad.

Key Man: Aaron Finch – The opener plundered 589 runs from only nine innings in last year’s South Group fixtures, five of them unbeaten, averaging a remarkable 147.25 and scoring two hundreds and three fifties.

Mr Consistency: Rikki Clarke – The all-rounder will be 38 in September but since his return to his native county towards the end of the 2017 season he has been a model of consistency and high standards with both bat and ball. In last year’s Vitality Blast he was an ever-present with 235 runs at an average of 47 and 16 wickets at 23.56 runs apiece. In 160 career T20 matches, Clarke has scored 2,245 runs and taken 112 wickets.

Under the radar: Will Jacks, still only 20, already has Championship and List A hundreds to his name and has the power and range of strokes to explode in T20 cricket too. A brilliant fielder, he also bowls useful off-spin.

Killer Stat: They say T20 is a young man’s game, which must make Surrey one of the big favourites for the Vitality Blast title this year. The super-talented youthful group of Tom Curran (24), Sam Curran (21), Ollie Pope (21), Conor McKerr (21), Ryan Patel (21), Will Jacks (20) and Jamie Smith (19) have already more than made their mark in Surrey’s first team across all formats – and in some cases with England too – and they will all provide energy and enthusiasm in and around the county’s short form squad.

Tickets for this match are sold out but still you can still catch the Eagles in action this season with 6 other games taking place at The Cloudfm County Ground!