Being a Gloucestershire supporter is rarely dull, although it is frequently exasperating. See the forthcoming Northants write up from Cheltenham for more on this theme. Last week however was a T20 week, and we were both able to get to the Oval to see the game with some friends.
In scorching 36 degree weather described as 'the hottest day in London for a decade', we saw a curate's egg of of match. The pitch was slow, sticky and took turn in abundance, which belied the Oval's batsmen-friendly reputation. Glos lost star man Klinger early to Matt Dunn, then struggled to get going throughout the 20 overs, despite some steady partnerships and the loss of just 5 wickets.
A couple of typical 'shire moments occurred when both Ian Cockbain and O' Mish perished the ball after striking sixes. Cockbain's was the more brainless shot, as he dragged on a slog, having just dispatched Dunn over long on the previous delivery. Marshall was caught behind off a gripping and turning Ansari delivery, an excellent response to having been pulled over deep midwicket.
The only real partnership of note came when Peter Handscomb put on 62 with Geraint Jones. Both men struggled to get the ball away to the boundary, but they ran hard and helped set a reasonable target above 150.
Things didn't start well for the boys though, as Jason Roy and Tom Curran opened up with a brisk 35 partnership which saw Roy strike several attractive boundaries through his favourite off side, plus a big six. However, once Roy departed stumped (off surprise T20 wicket-taking threat Tom Smith) for 35, wickets fell at regular intervals and Surrey also found boundaries hard to come by.
Sangakkara stuck around to anchor the innings and a good partnership of 53 with Ben Foakes was the second highest of the match. However, both Glos spinners bowled with excellent control and the run rate climbed to 10 an over from the last 4, despite some unnecessary extras from both Gourmet-Burger and Benny Howell in the middle overs. When Smith dismissed Sangakkara for 34, Surrey were in a bit of trouble and Surrey began the last over still needing 9 to win.
Craig Miles began with a wide, then dismissed Zafar Ansari via an excellent Liam Norwell catch at fine leg. The next three deliveries were all tight and things were looking good as Azhar failed to connect with the penultimate ball, leaving an improbable six needed from the final ball. The consensus among us sat in the crowd was that a yorker or wider full length ball was the way to go, especially with Azhar having missed an almighty swish at the penultimate (short) delivery from Miles. After much discussion with Klinger and the brains trust, the youngster ran in and bowled another short one. Sadly the wily 40 year old (twice Miles' age!) was ready and waiting. He swung the ball away over the leg side, over the head of Benny Howell and over the boundary for a improbable match-winning six, sending the home crowd wild. And us home with our heads in our hands.
Video highlights of the heartbreak below: