BY MARCUS HOOK
The arrival of West Indies seamer Kemar Roach could not be more timely for Surrey. Their opening game defeat at the hands of plucky Gloucestershire last week was disappointing on a number of levels. The only time one sensed Surrey had their noses in front at Bristol was on the final morning, thanks to a sixth wicket stand of 131 between Ben Foakes and Jordan Clark.
But the damage was done a couple of days earlier when Gloucestershire lunched on 142-1 in reply to Surrey’s 220 all out. Across the contest, the visitors conceded 4.23 runs an over. Unless wickets are tumbling, you just can’t bowl with that lack of control and expect to win in four-day cricket, against anyone.
It all came down to Gloucestershire needing 228 off 63 overs for victory, which, following a shower, became 53 overs. But, by that stage, the underdogs were oozing positivity. They cantered home with 16 overs and eight wickets to spare.
One plus was Reece Topley marking his first-class debut for Surrey with figures of 5-66.
Furthermore, he bowled just one of the visitors’ 16 no-balls – which translates into 32 runs gifted.
Every member of the Surrey attack over-stepped at some point, which must be some kind of unwanted record.
At least there are seven more group games for Surrey to get their County Championship season back on track. The flaw with last summer’s Bob Willis Trophy was that just one defeat put paid to your chances of qualifying for the final.
It will be interesting to see how the South Londoners bounce back against Leicestershire and then Middlesex, both of whom also lost their curtain-raisers.
Due to the absence of spectators for at least the first third of the season, a tournament four thousand miles away (namely the IPL), might have been in danger of enjoying greater exposure than the cricket being played on these shores.
However, it seems more and more people are becoming aware that domestic cricket can now be viewed live online – complemented, as always, by the BBC’s excellent ball-by-ball commentaries.
Day one of last week’s Middlesex v Somerset clash, for example, attracted over 50,000 views on YouTube.
Virtually every county has grabbed the opportunity to enhance their live streaming services, something that wasn’t permitted under the previous broadcasting deal agreed by the ECB.
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