Published: 11th March, 2019
T20 cricket is often a game of nerve in tight situations, few have been better at handling that pressure in the format’s history than Gareth Batty.
Surrey’s current T20 captain Jade Dernbach described Batty as one of the ‘best white ball bowlers around’ recently and the spinner’s career has been filled with impressive efforts to defend modest totals. One of the standout spells in his career came at a sold out Kia Oval in 2012 as he claimed 3/20 to seal a 17-run defeat of Essex.
With just 128 on the board, it was always going to be tight but Batty’s economical bowling combined with his ability to dismiss the danger men in the opposition proved the difference.
The off-spinner was one of four slower bowlers in the team and that was Surrey’s winning ticket, with 14 of the 20 overs in the innings bowled by Batty, Murali Kartik (0/17), Zafar Ansari (1/15) or Matt Spriegel (1/15).
Pace off the ball kept Essex boundaries to a minimum, with just eight fours and one six in the entire innings but with such a small total, wickets were always going to be crucial too if Surrey were to get over the line.
That Batty dismissed Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah and James Franklin at regular intervals could largely be credited with the stop-start nature of the visitors’ innings.
Shah, batting at four, was the first of his victims after Batty beat the bat and went up big as soon as ball hit pad. The umpire sent the England man back to the changing rooms and he was forced to go for a run-a-ball nine.
Opener Bopara had made 28 from his 28 deliveries and was looking like the anchor to a successful chase before Matt Spriegel caught the England international and flipped the match on its head with Essex now 74/4.
New Zealand all-rounder Franklin was the final man to fall foul of our spinner after struggling to six from 14 balls. His frustration and the growing scoreboard pressure finally told and he holed out to captain Rory Hamilton-Brown in the 16th over.
The innings was finished off in style by Jade Dernbach and Surrey registered victory in their first home match of what would ultimately prove a difficult year in the competition.