Despite being a supporter and previously a member of Surrey Cricket Club, I rarely watch my team. I watched a 20/20 against Glamorgan and yesterday I went to the 50 over final at Lords where a close result was expected against Warwickshire.
Both games saw Surrey losing by enormous margins and after both games captain Gareth Batty explained that his team “didn’t turn up”.
Well I can confirm that Surrey did turn up because we watched them playing football before Batty won the toss and inexplicably chose to bat.
I watched as Surrey went from an imperious opening partnership to 136 all out, losing their last eight wickets for 38 runs.
And I watched as they looked toothless in the field as Trott & Co wiped the slate with 20 overs to spare.
The crowd shivered its way through only 70 of the total The crowd shivered its way through 70 of the expected 100 overs and the match was finished by 4pm, hours early.
Not a minnow, more the trout.
It is one thing to be a minnow in a trout stream. Being genuinely outclassed is one thing, but not turning up is another.
What happens when players get to a final of the national limited over competition and perform collectively as Surrey did yesterday? It isn’t nerves, it is perhaps the opposite, over confidence in the team’s capacity. Watching superstars like Roy with hands in pockets, watching balls go to the boundary from overthrows because fielders weren’t backing up and witnessing the complete failure of the Surrey team to generate any kind of rapport with its supporters was a sad thing.
Professional sportsmen must understand that for all the money from Sky, it is its fan base in which the club is grounded.
When I go to matches at Somerset, Glamorgan, Hampshire and Yorkshire (as I have done in the past 12 months) , I notice what Surrey has lost, which is the sense of a cricket club that brings the team and the fans together.
What Battye’s post-match apologies lacked was any sense of accountability to the paying (and viewing) public. It simply isn’t good enough “not to turn up”.
Value for money
The way big clubs are organised in cricket means they can choose who they want to play for them. Surrey has recently bought Durham’s star cricketers taking advantage of its status and money to raid a club that has little of either.
Over the years Surrey has bought a succession of superstars into the team on short-term contracts. This has been at the expense of its own academy players ( the comparison with Chelsea is obvious).
It has also been at the expense of the team spirit which has been so evident in the last two winners of the 50 over Cup (Somerset and Warwickshire). It seems that value and money are not correlated in the slightest.
I now bitterly regret paying a huge amount to watch Surrey not turn up when I could have gone to Brisbane Road’s Matchroom stadium and watch Yeovil beat Leyton Orient and climb out of the relegation zone of Division 2, the lowest football league.
Yeovil are always value for money, whether up or down, because they always give to their fans , no matter what rubbish they serve up on the pitch.
For that reason the Yeovil football club is part of the town. Surrey represents no one, and it doesn’t link to its fan-base. It is more interested in its Sky contract than its contract with its membership. That’s why I am not a member any more.
Surrey are great under-achievers and no-one quite knows why. To me it is obvious, the players have no accountability to the club. There was a point yesterday when Sam Curran turned to the silent Surrey fans and asked them to make some noise, I heard a bit of laughter.
You do not have a right to support, you earn it. You earn it by turning up every time, not just when it suits.