By Mark Baldwin
Scott Borthwick cannot wait for the resumption of Surrey’s Specsavers County Championship programme on Sunday, both because he will be fully match fit for the first time since April and because of the team’s collective determination to put a disappointing two months behind them.
Surrey’s players have enjoyed a week off since their back-to-back matches against Somerset and Yorkshire at Guildford, and so far their title defence has been something of a damp squib with no wins and two defeats from their first six championship fixtures.
Warwickshire are the visitors to the Kia Oval, for Surrey’s seventh game of the 14-match campaign, and Borthwick said: “It’s been great for everyone to have had a break, and especially our faster bowlers like Morne Morkel, Rikki Clarke and Matt Dunn. But with the injuries we’ve had, it has only been the real depth in our squad which has kept us going – not many other counties could have dealt with having an injury list close to double figures.
“I’m also now fit to bowl again, having pulled a muscle in my side when I was batting against Durham MCCU back in early April. I did it trying to slog one, and I didn’t even know I had a muscle there! But it meant that I missed the first Championship game and then the Royal London One-Day Cup matches and it’s only been in the last week or so that I have felt ready to start bowling again in practice.
“I bowled quite a few overs in our four-day game against MCC in Dubai in late March, and in pre-season generally, and I’ll be hoping to get a bowl in the Championship now – especially if the weather improves in this next month. It hasn’t exactly been leg-spinning weather so far this summer!”
Surrey play Yorkshire at Scarborough, Kent at the Oval and then Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, following the Warwickshire match and before the start of the Vitality Blast in mid-July, and what happens in these next four games will determine if Surrey can begin to climb the Division One table and even challenge the leaders in this year’s Championship race.
Borthwick, who has scored 315 runs from nine Championship innings at an average of 35, added: “We have these next four games, and then there are another four matches later in the summer so there’s lots of Championship cricket to be played and a lot that can happen. We have a chance to transform our season and the confidence in the camp is very much there despite the results so far.
“I started the season feeling in good nick, but then came the injury and since then I’ve had a couple of fifties and a few other thirties and forties. But there is a lot more to come and I’m very much looking forward to the next month.”