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Spitfires downed in T20 clash
Spitfires downed in T20 clash

Will Jacks took 4 for 15 to destroy Kent’s star-studded top order at the Kia Oval as Surrey outclassed Kent Spitfires in all departments to win their Vitality Blast quarter-final by 56 runs and reach Finals Day for the first time since 2014. 

Jacks’ off spin brought him his T20-best figures and reduced Kent initially to 51 for 4, and they could eventually only make 113 for 7 in reply to a Surrey total of 169 for 2 in which Hashim Amla and Jason Roy both hit controlled and classy half-centuries. 

Exploiting a used pitch expertly, Jacks – who had earlier finished on a quickfire 23 not out from 18 balls – began by dismissing both Daniel Bell-Drummond and Zak Crawley in his first over, the second of Kent’s reply. 

Bell-Drummond inside-edged a sweep on to his pad for keeper Ben Foakes to take a simple catch as the ball looped up into the air, and then Crawley – having swept Dan Moriarty’s left-arm spin for an opening four – bottom-edged an attempted cut to Foakes to go for 7. 

The 21-year-old all-rounder did get hit for a straight six by Joe Denly in his second over but, brought back for the 8th over, Jacks had Denly caught at deep midwicket for 16 from a mistimed smear. 

Then, in the 10th over, he left Kent with little hope by bowling Sam Billings for 18 with a ball that turned sharply past the England one-day batsman’s attempted sweep. 

Billings had got off the mark with a pulled six off Reece Topley, in the 5th over, but at no stage did Kent look capable of chasing down their victory target.

Jack Leaning top-scored with a 28-ball 34 before falling to a fine catch by Rory Burns on the deep mid wicket ropes off Topley from the last ball of the penultimate over. 

Alex Blake got to 14 before pulling Moriarty to deep mid wicket in the 13th over and Grant Stewart was sixth out, caught in the deep off Gareth Batty for 10 as Surrey, who qualified for the knock-out matches by topping the South Group, comfortably completed an eighth successive Blast victory. 

Batty’s off breaks earned him 1 for 21 from his four overs and Moriarty took 1 for 24; in total, 12 overs of spin had brought Surrey six wickets for 60 runs. 

Surrey’s 169 for 2 was based on an opening stand of 115 between Roy and Amla that was fluent throughout even though they never quite broke free of a limited but dogged Kent attack in which Denly’s four overs of leg spin for 24 runs stood out. 

Amla struck a six and nine fours in his unbeaten 73 from 53 balls, while Roy’s 56 took him 42 balls and included eight fours.

He took two fours in Denly’s first over, as the powerplay brought 50 runs, and also two fours in Imran Qayyum’s opening over, while Amla pierced the field almost at will in his stylish knock. Roy and Amla were not parted until the 13th over, with Roy skying Qayyum’s slow left arm towards long on and Blake jogging in to take the catch. 

It was a great platform for Surrey to build on but Qayyum then had Laurie Evans caught by Blake for 7 in similar fashion in his next over and both Tim Groenewald and Fred Klaassen conceded just four runs from the 16th and 19th overs respectively. 

Jacks did crunch Qayyum over extra cover for two fours in the 17th over, giving the bowler final figures of 2 for 34, and both he and Amla took fours off Stewart’s 18th over – Amla with a beautiful checked drive high over mid off. 

The first six of Surrey’s innings did not arrive, however, until the second ball of the last over when Amla seized on a Groenewald slower ball to hit it sweetly over the wide long off ropes.

Groenewald, though, finished the over well as 88 runs came from the second half of the innings. 

It proved more than enough and Surrey will now try to win the Twenty20 title for the first time since they became inaugural winners of the competition in 2003.

Surrey all-rounder and man-of-the-match Will Jacks, who was aged just four when Surrey won their only previous T20 title in 2003, said: “It would be brilliant for the club and really exciting if we could win it again at Edgbaston this Saturday.”

“It’s like when we won the county championship in 2018 – that was the first time for 16 years and, for a club like Surrey, it’s probably fair to say we underperformed for those years that followed the Adam Hollioake era in the late 1990s and early 2000s.”

“My role, home and away this season, has been to bowl the second over and see how it goes from there so obviously I would expect to keep on doing that now. The pitches at Edgbaston also take a bit of spin so hopefully we can go there and continue to play as we have done in the past few weeks.”

“Unfortunately there won’t be any fans in the ground but T20 Finals Day is always the best day of the season if you get there and we have got used to playing with no crowds so it would just be great if we could win the tournament and top off a brilliant competition.”

“We were pretty happy with 169 on the board and I was lucky things went my way today. Previously it has been Dan Moriarty taking most of the wickets but, as a unit today, all of us three spinners went really well. It was a professional performance all round, we had our plans and we executed them so well.” 

Kent captain Sam Billings said: “Credit to Surrey, they outplayed us and there’s not much more I can say. Interestingly, they said they would have bowled first if they had won the toss. We lost here in the final group match 11 days ago after batting first, so we thought we would chase this time.”

“Unfortunately, they got a partnership going up top and, when we batted, we lost early wickets and it was always going to be difficult after that. We weren’t quite at it with the ball, and overall we needed to play a lot better than we did to beat a team that has now won eight T20s on the trot.” 

Billings confirmed he had been given a Level One warning for dissent, though charged no penalty points, after throwing down the ball in disgust when Jason Roy survived a run out appeal just before he was dismissed for 56.

“I accept it, we are all human,” added Billings. “They had two international batsmen going at ten runs per over, we’re in a quarter-final and it’s a decision you feel has gone the other way.”