Butcher crafts perfect 10
Surrey's unbeaten Twenty20 record grow to ten games thanks to a three run win of Kent at the Brit Oval.
The mention of salvation usually connotes something deep, meaningful and profound. Yet for Surrey, deliverance from a troubled season continues to come through Twenty20: the friskiest, most shallow cricket of all.
Last night they edged past Kent by three runs in a compelling contest at the Brit Oval to book a place in this year's quarter-finals and continue their perfect record since the inception of this tournament last year: 10 completed matches, 10 wins.
For most of the season Jonathan Batty's side have looked downtrodden, even timid. But this was Surrey as we have come to know them: swaggering, cocksure and ultimately too good for their opponents. After winning the toss, they made 185 for seven without ever really engaging top gear, Mark Butcher top-scoring with a quick-witted 60 off 40 balls.
Kent's reply began thunderously but they slowly, surely ran out of puff from the moment they lost their two lethal weapons, Andrew Symonds and Shahid Afridi, despite a beefy 66 from Robert Key which included five sixes.
The heart of Surrey's 185 was a third-wicket partnership of 99 in 11 overs between Butcher and Greg Blewett. It would have been even more had Blewett, a purist asked to sully his craft, not again struggled to impose himself amid the Tetris-like frenzy.
Butcher, prepared to get down and dirty, immediately immersed himself in the zone of controlled risk and was much more successful. He darted and deflected, scurried and slogged, all the while proving that brain has a place alongside brawn in Twenty20.
The flip side, however, was soon shown by Symonds, who rampaged to a primal 26 from 11 balls before he was yorked by Tim Murtagh in the third over, the ball after he had flashed him for six. In the next over a more alert DJ might have reached for Shirley Bassey's History Repeating rather than Queen's Another One Bites The Dust when Afridi fell the ball after scything a six.
Key and Matthew Walker regrouped before Scott Newman took Walker with a fine leaping catch at long-on. Then Key decided to open his shoulders: his fifty came off 28 balls, including three sixes in a row off Nayan Doshi. But even in the anything-is-possible world of Twenty20, a target of 18 off the last over was too much.
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