The contest, which was tight for three and a half days, is decided by brain-melting 122*.
By nine wickets, Surrey defeated Hampshire 254 (Brown 95, Lawes 4-58) and 258 (Gubbins 84, Worrall 5-40) with scores of 270 (Pope 91, Abbas 6-64) and 247 for 1 (Pope 122*, Sibley 79*).
Scorecards can be deceptive at times. This contest is doing just that for the inaugural Surrey and Hampshire County Championship matchup of 2023.
No, seriously. I was mainly speaking, at least. The back-and-forth between these two great adversaries for the first three and a half days read like a Tarantino film. Unfortunately, so was the conclusion—a one-sided massacre by a lone protagonist.
Neither player had shown much, but Hampshire had the upper hand regarding the Kia Oval on Sunday. Even when Surrey’s lead of 182 was eventually reduced to 24, Surrey’s mission of eliminating those was far from assured against an international caliber attack on a now-indented ground.
Ollie Pope then materialized.
With Pope’s mind-boggling 122 not out, there is no incorrect place to start, but we could go into the evening session. You’re just here for the savagery, after all.
That’s when it turned into a lopsided, nine-wicket loss. Perhaps it’s harsh to Hampshire to call it that, but Hampshire’s XI’s inability to fend off an attack that saw the remaining 145 runs scored in 20.2 overs highlights the tectonic shift in the game’s dynamics. Who knows how many scars there are, but Ollie Pope delivered 100 in 70 deliveries.
Pope’s innings may have caused the most harm by making you forget how challenging the game of cricket is.
Mohammad Abbas was directly driven for four, cut off at the place, and followed. In light of that, I thought: why don’t more batters do that against a bowler who averages 23 in Test cricket and 18.31 in the Championship?
After that second boundary, he reached 39 thanks to a single, matching Dom Sibley’s score despite having played 54 fewer balls. There was a sense that Sibley didn’t need to work as hard, even though you knew his composure was crucial, especially during his opening stand of 54 with Rory Burns, whose departure brought Ollie Pope to the crease with 189 runs remaining.
Just smash the ball hard where there are no fielders, Dom, my friend. Out of 106 deliveries, the opener, who had transferred to Warwickshire in 2017, at least managed to reach fifty of the targets. Pope’s originated in 60.
When James Fuller attempted to bounce the ball, Ollie Pope moved out of the way and assisted the ball over the goalkeeper’s head as if trying to teepee the Pavilion. Why don’t more players use the pull shot given the risks involved, not the least of which is to your physical health? This approach seems more enjoyable and straightforward.
Even the spectators, who cheered and yelled throughout the 11th first-class century at the Oval as though it were his debut, began to take it for granted. A failed reverse paddle in the final 15 minutes caused Surrey fans, now inebriated and on the boundary, to sigh loudly as if it were a call for last orders.
Ollie Pope defeated them with one-for-the-road shots before hitting Felix Organ for back-to-back sixes into the Vauxhall End to end the game.
It’s crucial to remember that this was far more than England’s No. 3 simply enjoying a rascal hand for fun. This application was comparable to his first inning of 91 in difficult conditions over days two and three.
The light significantly accelerated from a relaxed start of 22 off 32 heading into the tea break. It appeared to hold at 6 p.m. when he and Sibley left again at 4 p.m., leaving roughly 16 overs to be bowled. By 5:20 p.m., everyone was exchanging handshakes.
By the way, Sibley was more than just a stagehand in Pope’s one-person play. In addition to contributing 63 runs to the 193-run stand that won the game, he supplied a useful counterpunch and a very different right-hander against whom to bowl. James parodied Ollie Pope with some crazy shots, at least compared to the midwicket tucks Pope had relied on until that decisive break.
He used a switch of feet but not hands to sweep a rare boundary on the offside, which was a bit innovative in addition to his more significant shooting intention. Of his 79 runs, the final 43 came off 52 deliveries.
The manner of the conclusion contradicts the position that existed hours earlier when it appeared as though Surrey would require more of the 72 remaining overs of the day to chase their 243-run mark. They finished off Hampshire’s second innings early enough for Burns and Sibley to have a 20-minute sample before lunch, so the fact that they had so many batsmen to work with was a testament to their bowlers.
Only 45 was gained to the overnight lead since Surrey took the remaining five wickets in just 22 overs and did so with such finesse. In the end, Tom Lawes’ first dismissal of the day, in which Sibley caught Nick Gubbins at first slip, allowed that to happen.
Gubbins had 79 points the previous night and was understandably on guard as Lawes angled across him, leaving plenty of deliveries. Lawes altered his line straighter instead of trying to catch the left-hander with one that came back in. The 20-year-old discovered sufficient seam movement with the old ball, which allowed Gubbins to offer the bat and, thus, the edge.
Kemar Roach struck twice, first getting rid of the threatening James Fuller and then breaking Kyle Abbott’s off stump after keeping track of the score till the new ball. Dan Worrall completed his third five-wicket haul for the team at the other end by dismissing Hampshire with an lbw call on Abbas after bouncing out Keith Barker.
The rest of the day was spent by those seamers kicking up their feet to celebrate Pope’s century, which he attained with a four-nipped through a square leg off his 93rd delivery. Even though he’s the only one we’re going to gush about, they remained standing until the final blows proved that more than one individual contributed to the victory.
With that significant quantity of red ink, Pope’s average for Surrey at home has increased to 99.62; for 12 innings versus Hampshire, he is averaging 125.88. It cost them six hundred dollars.
More significantly, Surrey is ready to begin defending their Championship. A win following last week’s draw in Lancashire puts them in second place. It deals a significant blow to a Hampshire team vying for the Championship after beginning their season with a convincing victory over Nottinghamshire.
The season’s final round, anticipated as a potential winner-take-all contest before the season started, will feature a rematch between these two. This match won’t change that on paper, but how the outcome is handled will try Hampshire’s resolve.
Along with the fact that Test cricket will be over by August and the international white ball structure will be strong enough to do without him, Ollie Pope will return to try and get one over on them once more.