T20 provides respite from relegation fight
FOR the next month, domestic cricket's centre stage is given over to the group phase of the Friends Life T20.
But when Surrey's four-day campaign resumes against Lancashire at Guildford, on July 11, the Oval outfit will be facing a battle for survival.
Their ten-wicket defeat at Horsham leaves Rory Hamilton-Brown's men precariously close to the drop zone in the LV> County Championship.
Five of the remaining eight matches are against sides in the top half of Division One. Just as significant, the same number are on the road.
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Last summer, Surrey won more than half their away games in the championship. This term, they have lost two out of three and followed-on in the third.
Surrey team director Chris Adams admitted, in as many words, that he did not have any answers as to why his side had succumbed to a team that many observers regarded as relegation candidates at the start of the season.
He said: "Every time we lose a game of cricket there is a level of disappointment and, on this occasion, a degree of honesty. The players are disappointed and I'm disappointed because it doesn't get much worse than that.
"In essence, we've lost almost a complete day to rain and still got beat, that's a proper pasting. I don't think we can have any issues or complaints about the result. We were outplayed.
"We knew it was an important toss. It was one we lost and we knew the conditions would be tough, but we just didn't adapt quickly enough and that's been a familiar story.
"Whether junior players or senior players, we haven't adapted enough in the first innings. And as we've seen over the last few weeks, it's been the captain trying to hold the ship together with the bat in the second innings, with not enough of a contribution from anywhere else.
"My focus is trying to work out how we're going to get some serious runs on the board. We might be one innings away from that. When that happens, what I have seen in this game is that, with Murali Kartik in the side, the balance of the side looks very nice. It allows the seamers to bowl with great venom and accuracy for longer periods of time."
At the start of the season, Adams promised that Surrey would work harder, be better prepared and commit more than their opponents. But last weekend there was a marked difference in Adams' assessment.
He said: "It is draining, watching us coming from behind all the time. But we said at the start of the year that we would have to learn on our feet in Division One.
"What we know about Division One is that there is no easy game. Sides do not back down, they dig in. To allow Sussex to get away as we did and for their tail to wag like it did has proved very costly.
"We're at the halfway stage, with eight games gone. We are certainly not at the end of the table that we would have hoped, after beating Sussex in the first game.
"The challenge for the team isn't to put four-day cricket to bed. We've got a lot to look forward to in terms of Twenty20 cricket and, on paper, we have a very strong side and two wonderful overseas players to complement some young, exciting and dynamic cricketers.
"It will do us all a world of good if we get on a run in the Twenty20 and give a good account of ourselves.
"On paper we look a strong side. Providing we prepare mentally for the challenge we should have a good competition."