Rikki Clarke insists Surrey are motivated despite lack of fans against Middlesex
Surrey’s motivation ahead of Saturday’s Bob Willis Trophy opener against Middlesex remains high according to vice-captain Rikki Clarke despite plans to welcome spectators into the Kia Oval being cut short.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed on Friday afternoon that the return of fans on a pilot basis to sporting events had to be scrapped.
The Kia Oval and Warwickshire’s Edgbaston home hosted spectators for friendlies earlier in July and both were set to welcome back supporters this weekend.
“It is obviously disappointing we can’t get the crowds in over the next couple of days, but we are here to do a job and be professional,” Clarke said.
“We still have supporters out there who will be watching and wanting us to do well. We have trained and prepared incredibly well so we will be taking every game seriously and trying to win the two trophies up for grabs.”
Clarke, who will lead Surrey with captain Rory Burns away on England duty, had admitted the prospect of welcoming 2,500 people into the Kia Oval had given everyone at the club a boost.
He added: “Having the pilot session during the friendly against Middlesex the other day, it was nice to get back in front of a crowd.
“Then the opportunity for the next couple of days with 2,500 people coming in was very exciting. It is devastating news but the health and safety of the public is more important.”
Surrey are eager to start the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy positively, with the 2018 County Championship winners placed in the South Group.
England great Willis died in December and started his career at the Kia Oval before he went on to make his international debut after an impressive 1970 season with the county.
“First and foremost Bob Willis will always go down as a legend of the game,” Clarke said.
“He was a really nice guy and very approachable so he had that side of him where he could be very professional with work, but he could also be a lot of fun to be around.
“His whole career from Surrey to Warwickshire and England, to name the trophy after him is only fitting. Fingers crossed we can do him justice and hold that Bob Willis Trophy at the end of the season.”
Clarke played two Tests and 20 one-day internationals for England between 2003 and 2006 and will most likely be without several key players for this shortened and improvised alternative to the usual domestic campaign.
Burns, Ollie Pope, Sam Curran and Ben Foakes are away on red-ball duty for their country while Jason Roy, Tom Curran and Reece Topley are part of the ongoing Royal London ODI series with Ireland.
It provides opportunities for younger members of Surrey’s group and with the Bob Willis Trophy becoming a regionalised competition, they will get to encounter a local derby to begin with.
“To lead the side again is is a massive privilege,” Clarke added.
“It is exciting times to get back and play some competitive cricket. It is a little bit of a different format to what we’ve been used to with Division One and Division Two.
“There will be a few sides we haven’t seen in four-day cricket for a little period of time, but with that comes local rivalries and there is no better feeling than to start off with our local rivals from across the river.”
Jonny Bairstow century heroics for England not enough to keep India at bay
Bairstow made 106 in typically rambunctious style, with 14 boundaries and two sixes.
In-form Jonny Bairstow leads England charge against India in Edgbaston decider
The Yorkshireman raced to 91 not out as England progressed to 200 for six.
James Anderson expects England to maintain their aggressive approach
India are in control of Ben Stokes’ team at Edgbaston.
Stuart Broad delivers costliest Test innings as India take control at Edgbaston
Broad gave up a record 35 runs in the penultimate over of India’s first innings.
Stuart Broad over costs a Test record 35 runs as India take charge at Edgbaston
The tourists reduced England to 60 for three having made 416 in their first innings.
Stuart Broad makes history twice on wild morning at Edgbaston
Bowler reached two milestones, one definitely unwanted.
Test cricket’s most expensive over – a ball-by-ball account
Stuart Broad’s over to Jasprit Bumrah went for 35 – seven more than the previous record.
New England captain Jos Buttler unable to prevent Lancashire defeat in Blast
The Lightning were defeated by Worcestershire Rapids.
You’ve got to applaud – Paul Collingwood hails ‘world-class’ Rishabh Pant knock
Pant blazed 146 off just 111 balls on an entertaining first day between England and India at Edgbaston.
Superb Rishabh Pant century turns Indian fortunes around against England
Pant smashed a brillaint 146 off just 111 balls.