Surrey 278 for 8 (Foakes 82, Burns 55) beat Essex 213 (Lawrence 50, Morkel 4-23, Plunkett 4-50) by 65 runs
Injuries to Jason Roy, Ollie Pope and Rikki Clarke took some of the gloss off Surrey’s 65-run victory against Essex at The Oval – their first Royal London Cup win of the season after two opening defeats at Gloucestershire and Sussex.
Two wickets in two balls by Liam Plunkett, in a welcome return to form settled a hard-fought contest in Surrey’s favour when, bowling the 41st over, he sent back Simon Harmer and Ryan ten Doeschate for 28 and 26 respectively after the seventh-wicket pair had added 46 in eight overs to leave Essex needing a seemingly achievable 77 from the last ten overs.
Morne Morkel had earlier taken 4 for 23, including a superb new ball spell of 5-1-12-2, and Plunkett finished off the innings by having last man Matt Quinn caught behind to end with figures of 4 for 50.
Veteran off spinner Gareth Batty took the ninth wicket, that of Peter Siddle, as Surrey ran out comfortable winners by dismissing Essex for 213.
Plunkett was delighted to see a reward for some extra work he had been doing on his bowling.
“I am pleased most of all that we won the game but also because I felt back to my best with the ball, having done some technical work with Richard Johnson (Surrey bowling coach) in the last couple of days,” Plunkett said. “It was nice to finish with four wickets and I thought we bowled well as a group.
“It’s good to get back to The Oval, after two away fixtures, as there is always a bit of bounce in the pitch. Essex are a good side but we also fielded well, especially early on with some great stops in the ring and some great catches.”
Roy suffered a back spasm early in the match, forcing him to leave the field and return only at the fall of Surrey’s seventh wicket, while Pope hurt his shoulder in a boundary-edge dive and was led off after the 28th over of Essex’s reply.
Pope had earlier flung himself to his right at point to claw down a full-blooded square cut by Alastair Cook off Morkel, which ended the former England captain’s innings on 9, and an equally spectacular catch was taken by Plunkett, leaping to his left to grab the ball one-handed at mid off, also off Morkel, to send back Tom Westley for 8.
Clarke damaged a finger in attempting to scoop up what would have been another excellent catch, low down at slip when Dan Lawrence, yet to score, edged Morkel in the same over.
Lawrence went on to score 50 from 59 balls and, after seeing Paul Walter sky a catch to Batty at third man off Plunkett to go for 25, added 90 in 15 overs with Ravi Bopara to take Essex to 142 for 3.
Bopara, though, was then bowled for an assured 50-ball 47 as he tried to cut Will Jacks’ off breaks. Next ball, it was 142 for 5 when Morkel dug in a short ball at Lawrence, who with one hand off the bat slashed him high to third man where Freddie van den Bergh – by then one of three Surrey substitute fielders – held a good catch.
It was a poor shot, and when Morkel had Robbie White caught at slip for 5 the Essex challenge had looked over. Ten Doeschate and Harmer revived their hopes, only for Plunkett to snuff them out again.
Surrey’s 278 for 8 was based on a fine 88-ball 82 by Ben Foakes, a workmanlike 55 from Rory Burns and a curiously muted 39 off 53 balls, with just one four, by Pope. Opener Roy finished on 35 not out, from 23 balls, but Surrey were left frustrated that Roy had been incapacitated so early in the game.
For Essex, seamer Simon Cook was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 37 from eight overs, with Lawrence taking 2 for 52 from ten overs delivered mainly at the back-end of Surrey’s innings and off-spinner Harmer also bowling cannily to concede just 38 runs from his nine overs.
Burns and Foakes put on 78 for the third wicket after Jacks had been caught at deep mid off for 11 and Mark Stoneman run out for 23 when, called through for a sharp single by Burns, he hesitated fatally before setting off and failed to beat Bopara’s throw to the keeper.
There were four fours in Burns’s busy 53-ball half-century before he was bowled by Lawrence’s off spin, aiming a cut, while Foakes produced some of the strokes of the day – an extra cover drive for four and straight hit for six off seamer Quinn, plus a rasping pull for four off Australian fast bowler Siddle.
Foakes and Pope added 81 in 14 overs, but then Pope sliced to deep cover off Quinn and three more wickets tumbled in quick succession as Clarke fell for 3, Plunkett was yorked for 5 and Conor McKerr edged behind on 2. Foakes fell in the 47th over, stumped advancing at Lawrence.
Roy suffered his injury at the start of the fourth over when he inside-edged a ball from Siddle into his inner thigh, took a single but looked in some discomfort. He played on for a while but then needed lengthy on-field treatment from Surrey’s physio before trying to continue batting.
On 16, though, having faced 12 balls and hit three fours, he was forced to retire hurt and only returned in the 46th over when McKerr was caught at the wicket for 2 off Simon Cook.
By then Foakes, Burns and Pope had put together the bulk of Surrey’s eventual total, although Roy’s short end-of-innings return to the crease did bring him a crashing extra cover driven four in the final over, bowled by Quinn, plus a pulled six from the next ball – a full-toss – which clearly caused him further pain.
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