Surrey skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown believes that the great comeback and eventual win over Northamptonshire yesterday (27th May) will give his side a sense of belief that they progress through the County Championship season.
The win looked unlikely for Surrey at the start of the fourth and final day, as Northamptonshire were 165 in front of the visitors with only four wickets down. However, a superb effort from three seamers, in particular Andre Nel meant that Northamptonshire were bowled out for 229, with opener Niall O’Brien top scoring with another quickfire 44 from just 55 balls.
Hamilton-Brown said: “The win was pretty much out of the question, but two pretty special performances got us back in to the game. Times have been pretty tough so performances like that I think are really important for where we want to go. It breads a huge amount of belief in everyone in the side and the confidence in the group has grown hugely so performances like that just highlight exactly where we are as a group.”
Nel, who after the game was fined £5,000 and banned for two matches by Surrey for an incident during the match, finished with four wickets in the second innings for 68 runs from his 17 overs, including four maidens. Nel’s victims included the key scalps of opener Stephen Peters, and the Northamptonshire captain, Andrew Hall. Hall was set on 32 before Nel had him caught behind by wicket-keeper Steven Davies.
Hamilton-Brown added: “Nel bowled brilliantly this morning when he came on and got two wickets where it could have fizzled out a little bit and his spell was fantastic the way he kept coming in was brilliant. The three older seamers, (Jade) Dernbach, (Tim) Linley and Nel were fantastic in this game with the way they came in. After that I think the bowlers did brilliantly and to come and take those six wickets in the first session, that was our goal but to come and put that into practice and deliver it as the boys did was pretty exceptional I thought.”
Linley picked up his maiden five-wicket haul in county cricket in the first innings of the game to reduce Northamptonshire to a below-par 397, after they were 360 for 5. He picked up the top three in the batting line-up including Peters, O’Brien and Mal Loye, whose magnificent knock of 164 from took the Steelbacks to close to 400.
“The great thing with Linley is he bowls alot of overs and he is very easy to captain, you can set pretty orthadox fields to him knowing that not a huge amount is going to change and you know he is a really level-headed bloke who has been fantastic for us this season. He has done really well, he has been a real find for us and I think he did a great job and was backed by Dernbach and Nel again.”
Mark Ramprakash made 70 from 143 balls in the first innings before falling to James Middlebrook and 79 not out in the second innings to steer Surrey to their first County Championship victory in 17 games.
Paying tribute, Hamilton-Brown said: “Ramps’ has been fantastic this season for us the last couple of weeks he has gone in to ‘ultra Mark Ramprakash mode’ again and it is brilliant to watch. It is fantastic for him around a young side and he never lets you down.
“For me its very pleasing, the most pleasing thing about this win for me is that it was a complete team effort and this was a really good four day win. Most of the team across the board contributed in some way, that is really satisfying and something I genuinely believe has been coming over the last month or so. We have been playing good cricket, but it is nice to get the first win definitely.”
Surrey are quickly back into four-day action when they take on Division Two pace-setters Glamorgan in Cardiff in a match that begins on Saturday (29th May).
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