By Jeremy Blackmore
Aaron Finch has revealed some of the secrets behind the special partnership he has forged at Surrey with Jason Roy after the pair posted the second highest ever stand in English T20 history.
The pair, who have opened for Surrey in the Blast since 2016, put on 194 in pursuit of Middlesex’s 221 last Friday night, reaching 98-0 off the powerplay overs alone. In doing so, they broke their own record stand for Surrey of 187 against Kent two years ago.
In England, the feat is eclipsed only by the 207 put on by Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond for Kent last year.
Finch, the number one ranked T20 player in the world, struck an unbeaten 117, his second century of this year’s Blast campaign, in a brutal, but controlled display of hitting. He faced just 52 balls and struck 11 fours and 8 huge sixes that merely offered catching opportunities for a capacity crowd.
His first 50 off just 16 deliveries was Surrey’s quickest ever T20 half-century and the joint third fastest in England.
On a night of records, the run chase was the highest in all T20 cricket at the Oval and sealed with a full four overs to spare.
Afterwards, Finch spoke about his partnership with Roy, who contributed 84 runs of his own to the stand: “Jason and I complement each other well as we have similar type games. We’re both obviously very aggressive, but almost once one guy gets off to a bit of a flier, the other one sort of swallows their pride a bit, feeds him the strike for a little while and really makes sure that they’re getting the majority of the balls faced.
“It was a very satisfying feeling to knock off a total like that. At the start of the game we probably thought that was a bit over par, but they played incredibly well, so to knock that off was very satisfying.
“Once you get a bit of a flyer, it can be a bit hard to pull the reins back. We looked up and we still needed tens, after about four or five overs, so we knew that we had to try and keep pushing the game as quick as we could to give us a few options at the back end because the wicket was starting to slow up a little bit. Ashton Agar bowled really well and started to turn it at times, so we knew that we had to keep going early.
“There’s always a little bit of an unknown when you’re chasing 220, everything pretty much has to go right in a big chase like that. And luckily for us it did.”
Did that performance make him feel he can chase down any total?
“It depends on the day. It does give the batting group a lot of confidence. It probably gives the bowling group a lot of confidence as well, that they can then then relax, so that they don’t have to go and try and restrict to around 140. You can just let the game unfold and make sure that they’re just doing the basics well. So, I think it helps everyone out on the ground, to be able to complement each other really well in terms of bat and ball. It’s a huge bonus.”
Recording such an emphatic victory so soon after Surrey’s first defeat in five games to Glamorgan earlier in the week showed how well the side can bounce back, said Finch.
“We would obviously want to be higher in the table, but we’ve played some really good cricket. We had one slip-up against Glamorgan where we played really good cricket for the majority of the game, but we just got outplayed in certain patches, so it’s always nice to bounce back with a win especially in front of a huge home crowd on a London derby Friday.
“The atmosphere at the Oval was certainly special. They swing from the rafters here. They’re an amazing fan base and all in all the crowd is amazing and their support is very much appreciated by the guys.
Finch’s partnership with Roy comes hot on the heels of the record opening partnership of 223 in international T20 cricket that the new Australian captain posted with D’Arcy Short against Zimbabwe in Harare last month.
Surrey skipper Jade Dernbach said: “That was unbelievable. We have just witnessed two of the best T20 players in the world putting on a show in front of a full house and I’m not sure if I’ve seen anything like it.
“The clean hitting of Aaron and Jason was incredible to watch and what they both did out there is just pure talent.
“They both trust in their ability to hit every ball for six if it is in their zones and although Middlesex’s bowlers clearly had some good plans they simply couldn’t do anything to stop Aaron and Jason.”
Spare a thought for Middlesex’s Paul Stirling, whose maiden T20 hundred after being dropped off the first ball of the match set up the run chase. The Irish international made the most of the reprieve in scoring 109 off 58 balls.