Surrey coach Graham Ford reckons last season’s Twenty 20 finals day disappointment and the big game atmosphere give his side an edge as they go in search of silverware this weekend.
Surrey head to Edgbaston for their T20 Blast semi-final against Birmingham Bears, hoping to banish the memory of last summer’s crushing 102-run final defeat to Northampton Steelbacks.
Ford’s men, who beat Somerset in the Royal London One Day Cup on Wednesday, have not won a limited overs title since lifting the Clydesdale Bank 40 trophy at Lord’s in 2011 and were the inaugural winners of the T20 title way back in 2003.
They will name star batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan in their starting line-up, knowing the squad have been playing to packed houses at the Oval since the competition’s inception 11 years ago.
But far from fearing the occasion, Ford believes his men will lap it up.
“It is important to have experience, but, as we know, anything can happen,” he said.
“We cannot get ahead of ourselves. It is going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of good cricket. We need to make sure we start well and not dream about the end result.
“If a couple of our key players have a good day we’ll be right up there. It is knock out stuff.
“Our lads have played in front of some magnificent crowds at the Oval, so playing in front of a big crowd might be a little bit easier for our lads.”
Surrey go in to the game having edged a three-wicket win over Worcestershire Rapids in the quarter-finals and closed out a seven-run 40-over win over Somerset two days ago.
The latter featured good runs for the likes of Banstead’s Rory Burns (40), ex-Weybridge cricketer Zafar Ansari (28) and Leatherhead’s Aneesh Kapil (59) and Steven Davies (50).
And Ford, who has been involved in finals day on three other occasions with former club Kent, says his side is in good shape for success, despite a lack of 20-over cricket in recent weeks.
“There have been times when we haven’t played that well this season and still got the result,” added Ford.
“We showed a lot of calm heads in the quarter final and that is going to be important again in knock-out cricket.
“We have not played a lot of T20 cricket recently, so are going to have to hit the ground running.”