Cricket: Surrey head coach confident of winning return to Vitality Blast

By Marcus Hook

Surrey’s head coach Gareth Batty is confident the South Londoners can return to winning ways in the Vitality Blast, after suffering back-to-back defeats at the hands of Sussex and Essex.

The Oval outfit are still assured of a place in next week’s quarter-finals, but need one more point from their two remaining group fixtures to secure a home tie.

“You are only ever a game away from having momentum in T20 cricket,” said Batty following the 43-run loss to Essex at Chelmsford. “You need to keep believing and have faith in the way you play. We didn’t get it right against Essex, but we take it on the chin and move forward.

“T20 cricket isn’t an exact science. A few of the players have gone off to England duty and we haven’t quite got it right when it comes to our game plan, but we’re still very confident about our skills and two defeats isn’t the end of the world.”

In Division One of the LV County Championship, Surrey remain top despite being held to a draw by Kent, who they will face again at the Oval tomorrow in the Blast.

With second-placed Hampshire losing narrowly to Essex, the Oval outfit have a 16-point advantage with eight of 14 championship matches played.

The South Londoners were quick to lay a foundation by racking up 673-7 at 5.20 runs per over against Kent, who were forced to follow-on after being bowled out for 331 in reply.

Cricket: Surrey head coach confident of winning return to Vitality Blast

But with Daniel Bell-Drummond (102 and 107 not out) registering a fourth championship hundred of the season to add to his third, the visitors held firm.

Surrey’s bowling coach Azhar Mahmood said: “The bowlers gave everything they had for more than 200 overs, and although we didn’t win the game we are happy enough to take the 16 points from the draw.

“There were also a lot of plus points from the match for us. Ben Geddes and Sam Curran both scored their first championship hundreds, with Sam’s the first of his career. Hashim Amla also got back into form with his 124.

Cricket: Surrey head coach confident of winning return to Vitality Blast

“With the ball I thought young Tom Lawes did absolutely brilliantly on championship debut, taking four wickets in their first innings and bowling well throughout. He certainly showed just what depth we have in our squad at the moment.”

Surrey have signed uncapped Australian all-rounder Aaron Hardie for the remainder of the Vitality Blast, after losing Kieron Pollard to injury.

Hardie, 23, who averages 50.30 with the bat in first-class cricket, and 25.34 with the ball, will also be available for the trip to Scarborough, to play Yorkshire in the County Championship.

Cricket: Surrey head coach confident of winning return to Vitality Blast

“I’m super stoked to be joining Surrey,” said Hardie. “I’ve spoken to Laurie Evans and Jason Roy about what it’s like to play at the Kia Oval and I’m really excited.

“I’m keen to learn from players like Hashim Amla, as well as the younger guys in the dressing room like Will Jacks, and I hope I can make a contribution.”

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