Published On: Sun, Aug 28th, 2016

Davies and Meaker star as Surrey go back to Lord's

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Surrey 255 for 7 (Davies 104, Foakes 90, Waite 3-48) beat Yorkshire 236 (Bresnan 68, Meaker 3-61) by 19 runs
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Highlights – Surrey secure place in Lord’s final

Yorkshire folk, so tradition has it, don’t much care for London. Dire warnings are issued that it’s £5 a pint, people run up escalators and that you are stared at suspiciously if you talk gratuitously to a stranger. As far as Yorkshire cricket is concerned, there must be strangers a plenty in London – they have still not managed to go there for a Lord’s final since 2002.

Surrey, finishing the season with a swagger, put Yorkshire in their place on their own Headingley midden by a 19-run margin and now face the winners of Monday’s semi-final between Warwickshire and Somerset with a chance to improve on last year’s agonising defeat to Gloucestershire.

Steven Davies‘ carefree century, with Ben Foakes not far short, took Surrey to 255 for 7, a worthy effort, but manageable in easing conditions. But Surrey looked in control of this Royal London Cup semi-final from the moment that Stuart Meaker took 3 for 2 in nine balls – Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance and Jack Leaning all succumbing on a sluggish surface that gave Meaker, the fastest bowler on view, few advantages.

That Yorkshire remained in touch until deep into the game was down to the resolve of Tim Bresnan, who completed a productive batting summer in this competition with 68 from 82 balls, his resistance ending seven balls from time when he swung a full toss from Jade Dernbach to long-on. It was a composed effort from Bresnan, so calm in adversity that one imagines if war ever hit Pontefract he would first sit on a bench munching a bacon sandwich and see how it developed.

After briefly imagining the possibility of a treble, Yorkshire have now crashed out of both limited-overs competitions on successive weekends at the semi-final stage. Their semi-final record in List A cricket is particularly galling. “That statistic isn’t in our minds,” said Jason Gillespie, their coach, ahead of this tie. But the statistic exists, further swollen to 17 defeats in 20. Perhaps it partly explains a Headingley crowd of only 5,000, left disappointed too often.

“When it has mattered we haven’t been good enough,” said Alex Lees, whose debut season as a limited-overs captain has ended with dejection. “I thought it was a gettable target. Tim Bresnan has won us three or four games single-handedly and has been exceptional both with bat and ball. If we look back it will have been a positive season, but let’s be honest, you don’t want to lose two semi-finals.”

There was little to delight the Tykes who did spend Bank Holiday Sunday at Headingley when Yorkshire batted. Adam Lyth popped Dernbach into the off side and then Lees, never entirely secure, played outside a quicker arm ball from Gareth Batty, who underwent an instant transformation from chatty chappie to the Batty Haka, his eyes as wide as fat-fried eggs, his face contorting in warlike celebration. “I’m so bad I always think it might be the last wicket I ever get,” Surrey’s captain proffered. He is much better than that.

Batty held back Meaker until the 20th over, perhaps fearing that he would be more likely to leak runs when the ball was hard, and it took Meaker three balls to remove Bairstow, courtesy of a weak whip to midwicket. In his next over came two more. Ballance, who had carved his way into the 30s, edged to the wicketkeeper, Foakes, attempting to chop him through gully, a shot that often gets him into bother. Leaning dragged on to leave Yorkshire 81 for 5.

Consolation came not just from Bresnan but also in the competitive instincts of Matthew Waite, whose spirited 38 shared a sixth-wicket stand of 80 in 16 overs. But Sam Curran scuttled in dementedly to deceive Waite with a slower ball from around the wicket, Tom Curran loped in with his own version of a slower ball to remove Steven Patterson first ball and Surrey got the job done.

Surrey fielded five wicketkeepers in their XI, including the England U-19 Ollie Pope on debut. That plus a wicketkeeper of an older vintage, Alec Stewart, looking on. After they had been inserted by Yorkshire, two of them, Davies and Foakes, provided the substance in a fourth-wicket stand of 130 in 24 overs which allowed them to make light of a failure for Kumar Sangakkara, the man who had virtually single-handedly won their quarter-final against Northants – pulled off by one wicket off the last ball.

The careers are increasingly interconnected: Davies has decided he wants to don the gauntlets again; Foakes is the man in possession. Davies has been offered another Surrey contract, but Somerset and Nottinghamshire are among those seeking to entice him away. There are good England judges who hold Foakes in high regard, so much so that a Test tour to Bangladesh and India is not beyond possibility, while Davies has not represented England for five years and never warrants a mention these days. It must frustrate him, but competition among keeper-batsmen has been high and his indecision about his commitment to the role has not always helped him.

Here, though, was a reminder, of his quality. He timed the ball as crisply as anyone, his bigger shots, as so often, found square on the off side, and he reached 104 with little to discomfort him until depositing a full toss from Waite into the hands of deep square. Foakes, working the leg side efficiently, missed his hundred as he scooped Bresnan to short fine leg.

Surrey had eyes on 275 when Davies was dismissed with 12 overs remaining. That they never quite summoned a final flourish was partly due to the nature of the pitch and also to the resilience of Waite, who received cheers for his return of 3 for 48. He was fortunate to pick up Rory Burns with a leg side gift which he flicked to long leg and Sam Curran also self-destructed but just as he did in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final against Glamorgan in Cardiff he revelled in the pressure of a big game. He will rue not locking onto a return chance, however, when Davies was 43.

A place in the final, though, deservedly belonged to Surrey – and their combative captain, Batty. Born in Bradford, a Yorkshire loyalist in the crowd is bound to have asserted. Clearly here is one Yorkshire-born cricketer who has revelled in life in the capital.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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