Meet Sussex Sharks' next Vitality Blast opponent: Surrey
As Sussex gear up to face Surrey tomorrow (13 July) we take a look at the Sharks' next opponents.
T20 record: Winners: 2003
Runners-up: 2004 and 2013
Other Finals’ Day appearances: 2005, 2006 and 2014
Last season: Second in South Group; lost to Birmingham in quarter-finals at Kia Oval
Captain: Jade Dernbach
Overseas players: Aaron Finch (Australia), Nic Maddinson (Australia)
Big Hitter: Left-hander Nic Maddinson can hit a long ball, as he proved while topping the Sydney Sixers’ run charts with 291 from ten innings at a strike rate of 145.50 in last winter’s Big Bash.
But Surrey’s master blaster is again likely to be either their other Australian, Aaron Finch, who returns to the Kia Oval after hitting 489 runs at 40.75 and with a remarkable strike rate of 166.89 in last year’s competition, or England’s limited-overs opener Jason Roy, whose 350 runs came at a strike rate of 159.09.
Finch bludgeoned 25 sixes in 2017 while Roy, who struck 13, was also the competition’s leading run-scorer with 677 in 2014.
Key Bowler: Morne Morkel has been signed by Surrey to play all formats on an initial two-year Kolpak deal, and the giant 33-year-old South African fast bowler can add a real cutting edge to an attack based on the two Curran brothers, Tom and Sam, T20-only skipper Dernbach – one of English cricket’s best and most enduring ‘death’ bowlers – and the veteran off spinner Gareth Batty.
Morkel’s vast international experience included 44 T20s for South Africa in addition to his 86 Tests and 117 ODIs.
Wild Card: Ollie Pope, who turned 20 earlier this year, first caught the eye at senior level when playing in white-ball cricket for Surrey last summer.
He has since gone on to impress further many good judges with mature performances in both championship and 50-over matches but, alongside Finch, Dernbach and Sam Curran, Pope was Surrey’s only ever-present as they reached last year’s T20 Blast quarter-finals, scoring 253 runs from 13 knocks in the frantic late-innings’ overs with a strike rate of 124.63 and a top score of 46. Always inventive, Pope has a 360-degree ability to score quick runs.