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The Royal London One Day Cup reaches it’s climax this weekend as Surrey and Gloucestershire do battle at Lord’s for the chance to lift the trophy. The two County Championship Division Two sides secured their places in two very different semi-finals, with Gloucestershire running out easy 8-wicket winners over Yorkshire, while Surrey were made to sweat – eventually coming through to beat Nottinghamshire by just four runs.
The competition is in just it’s second year after replacing the ECB 40 tournament which ran from 2010-2013. The number of overs was increased to 50 in line with one-day internationals, and the Cup is contested by the 18 England and Wales first class counties. The counties are separated into two groups of nine, with the top four in each group progressing to the quarter-finals. England’s summer-long tussle against Australia in both test and one-day formats took some of the better players from county cricket sides during the business end of the tournament, but Saturday’s final is still a mouth-watering one, with two sides both keen to win to emulate Durham’s success last year.
Road to the Final
It’s a long and arduous journey to reach the final of this competition, with eight group matches to play before the quarter-final stage. Surrey and Gloucestershire were both drawn in Group A, and finished 1st and 2nd respectively, Surrey amassing 13 points and Gloucestershire just behind with 11. They played each other on the 18th of August in this competition, just a few days before renewing rivalries in the County Championship. Surrey won by 12 runs on that occasion, but were held to a draw on their return visit to Gloucestershire in the County Championship on the 21st August. Division One leaders Yorkshire took third spot in the table, while Durham just squeezed in ahead of Northamptonshire to claim the fourth quarter-final spot.
Nottinghamshire topped Group B with 12 points, and Essex claimed 2nd place with 10. Hampshire were a clear third, while Kent just edged out Lancashire and Warwickshire to make their way to the knockout phase. The quarter-finals were played towards the end of August, with Surrey taking on Kent, Essex drawn against Yorkshire, Gloucestershire playing Hampshire, and Nottinghamshire up against Durham.
Notts won comfortably by beating Durham by 49 runs with Alex Hales hitting 62 to lead them on the way. Gloucestershire were rarely troubled by Hampshire as Klinger’s 87 set them en route to a 4 wicket victory. Plunkett took 3-58 as Yorkshire overcame a resilient Essex side to win by 20 runs, while Surrey won an even tighter match against Kent by 17 runs, with Roy’s century doing the most damage.
That set up semi-final clashes between Surrey and Notts, and Gloucestershire and Yorkshire. Kumar Sangakkara was the star for Surrey as he hit one of his best innings to rack up 166 runs – over half of Surrey’s total of 300-5. It was just three runs short of his personal best ever, when he hit 169 for Sri Lanka against South Africa in a one-day international in 2013. His knock was also the best in English limited-overs cricket this season, and the highest score since Jacques Rudolph’s unbeaten 169 for Glamorgan against Surrey in August 2014. He was eventually caught by Broad after a delivery by Ball, but the damage had long since been done by then. Notts capitulated early on to 16-3 after young bowler Sam Curran took two wickets in two balls, but they rallied well with Greg Smith making 124 to set up a tense finale. They fell just short on 296-7 giving a four-run victory to Surrey, but will lament the missing Alex Hales and James Taylor who were both on international duty with England.
Gloucestershire again made much lighter work of their opposition, beating Yorkshire by 8 wickets. An impressive result considering Yorkshire sit top of the County Championship Division One at the moment. Micheal Klinger led the way and became only the second Gloucestershire player ever to make five consecutive half-centuries in List A cricket. He scored an emphatic 137 off 145 balls and shared an unbroken third-wicket stand of 177 runs with Hamish Marshall. Adam Lyth, fresh from his England call-up scored a fantastic 96 as Yorkshire opened the game, but they were limited to 263-9 as Benny Howell took 3-37. Klinger and Marshall were supremely confident with the bat though, and completed the run-chase with 19 balls to spare.
Royal London One Day Cup Final
Although the two sides most recent meeting was drawn in August, Surrey had won the previous four contests between the two dating back to June 2014. They are also primed for promotion to Division One this season as they lead the Division Two table ahead of Lancashire, with the two well clear of third-placed Essex. Gloucestershire are 6th in the nine-team table, and have only managed to win 5 of their 14 league games so far, compared to Surreys 8 out of 14.
The game will be shown live on Sky TV from 10:30 on Saturday morning, and it will be an excellent tussle. With Kumar Sangakkara back with a bang, Surrey will take all the beating. They’ve made their way to a position where they are on the cusp of promotion and winning a cup, and they won’t relinquish that opportunity easily. Gloucestershire, for their part, weren’t expected to beat Yorkshire in the semi-final and they go to Lord’s as underdogs. That can often be more of a help than a hindrance, but on this occasion Surrey look the side to be on.
Surrey to beat Gloucestershire
Saturday 19th September 10:30 GMT
Odds: 8/13 1.62 -163 0.61 -1.63 0.61