Monday, 5 May 2008

Of Berg, Benning, Brown & Udal

My only previous match of the season having been the previous FPT fixture between the two at The Oval two weeks beforehand, and with Middlesex having won convincingly, I made my way to Lords yesterday hopeful of revenge as a Surrey supporter. Various journey delays meant I arrived around 20 minutes late but imagine my surprise when taking my seat in the Compton Stand to see that Middlesex were 9-3.

It's not the first time I've missed a raft of early wickets in a match but for this catastrophe to befall Middlesex is, as far as English cricket is concerned, rather disturbing. Let me just remind you of the Middlesex top 5: Joyce, Smith, Shah, Strauss, Morgan. These 5 players are all supposedly either of a high enough standard to have played test cricket or have the potential to do so. Yet between them they contributed 33 runs to Middlesex's grand total of 233-8 in 50 overs yesterday. It was left to Gareth Berg(65) and wicket-keeper Ben Scott (52), who was forced to briefly retire hurt midway through his innings, to steady the ship and some nudging by Vernon Philander(24) and some big hits from ex-Surrey man Tim Murtagh(35*) to give them a chance of winning the match.

In complete contrast James Benning won the match for Surrey with a superb 106 off just 84 balls with 15 fours and 2 sixes. Ally Brown, a member of the old guard, finished things off, eventually, with 40* after Usman Afzaal had played a torturous innings of 21 from 44 balls with only 1 four. Unfortunately for Middlesex Gareth Berg's bowling was not quite as good as his batting and, although still in with a shout until around the last 10 overs, the Crusaders just couldn't find the cutting edge. Shaun Udal seems to be in despair of his new team mates (having been used to greater things at Hampshire). He seemed to spend most of his time fielding at third man throwing evil looks at members of the crowd, including myself, for applauding enthusiastically when Surrey scored a run.

That Owais Shah hasn't been given his test match run yet is an injustice but if today showed anything of relevance to England it is that James Benning must be given the oppurtunity at the top of England's one day order. When he is on top form he can destroy any attack.

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