MATCH REPORT: Surrey Take Pole Position In London Championship Despite Grit From Griffith

On a beautifully sunny day at The Oval, Surrey easily beat London rivals Middlesex by 90 runs despite a run-a-ball 86 – her best score of the season – from Cordelia Griffith.

Surrey secured maximum batting bonus points by scoring 253 for 4 in their 50 overs, in a performance which was testament to the depth of their women’s squad – a rich return on the investment which the club have made in their players over the years.

By contrast Middlesex, who had two of their three Sunrisers professionals available, struggled to maintain momentum in their chase beyond the powerplay, and were eventually bowled out for 163 in the course of 41 overs.

The win puts Surrey in pole position to retain the London Championship title which they won in 2020. They need only to beat Essex in their final match (on 12 July), with 3 bonus points, to usurp Kent’s current position at the top of the table.

Surrey had been put in to bat by Middlesex and made hay after opener Chloe Brewer edged through the hands of Iqraa Hussain on 1*. Brewer added 17 more runs to her total before being trapped LBW by Naomi Dattani.

Opening partner Madeleine Blinkhorn-Jones, playing in only her seventh match for Surrey, took on the Middlesex seamers with aplomb as she repeatedly drove down the ground, taking Middlesex to 64 for 1 in the opening 10 overs and bringing up a maiden half-century for her county.

The introduction of spin helped dry up the runs once the powerplay concluded, but when stand-in Surrey captain Kirstie White (35) feather edged behind to Sonali Patel in the 24th over, Alice Capsey (26 from 24) added extra impetus to the Surrey innings, pulling Kate Coppack for a big six over the square leg boundary.

A mini-collapse of 3 wickets for 9 runs between overs 30 and 33 saw off both Blinkhorn-Jones and Capsey. But Surrey showed their depth as both Amy Gordon (39) and Rhianna Southby (30) repeatedly chipped the ball over the heads of the Middlesex infield, adding 73 runs for the sixth wicket and allowing Surrey to push on past 250, the highest total in the (admittedly short) history of the London Championship.

It was always going to be a big ask for Middlesex to chase down the required runs, but they started positively enough, with Cordelia Griffith pulling Beth Kerins twice over midwicket in the opening over. Some wayward bowling from Gordon handed easy runs to Middlesex, who finished the powerplay at 69 for 1.

Once again, it was pace off the ball which did the damage – leg-spinner Danielle Gregory bamboozling Tash Miles into playing onto her own stumps in the 15th, while Dattani swung and missed at a full toss from Claudie Cooper and was bowled in the 18th.

Griffith stroked a single to bring up a 47-ball half-century in the next over, but the run-out of Gayatri Gole shortly afterwards – firmly sent back by Griffith attempting a single that was never there – was the beginning of the end for Middlesex. Gregory and Capsey, bowling leg and off-spin in tandem, helped turn the screw, as did some astute field placement from the experienced White.

Griffith was ultimately left with too much to do, valiantly trying to farm the strike but running out of partners at the other end. Aware that the run rate was pushing up above 7, she was eventually caught by Capsey at extra cover in the 36th over trying to push the score along.

Eva Gray then finished the job, taking the final 3 wickets with full, straight balls which took out the stumps of Sonali Patel, Katie Wolfe and Emily Thorpe.

Though Middlesex’s London Championship hopes are now over, they will take some heart from the fact that Griffith batted with such fluency. The hope is that she will be able to go on and transform her form into the forthcoming matches for Sunrisers in the Lottie Cup and the RHF Trophy.