Edwards makes himself known
When Surrey’s players celebrated LV= County Championship promotion in September there was an unfamiliar face among them.
George Edwards had not played in the championship campaign, but was part of the first-team squad for the last few games as Surrey went on a winning run that saw them pip Northamptonshire to second place in Division Two.
The raw right-arm fast bowler, who will be 20 in July, had made his first-class debut in Surrey’s shock 10-wicket defeat to Cambridge MCCU at Fenner’s in May.
Having since impressed in the second XI, including nine wickets versus Somerset at the start of this month, he earned his second first-class appearance and championship bow against Worcestershire last week.
With Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker on England Lions duty and Chris Tremlett recovering from a back injury, Edwards learned on the morning of the game he would be one of three specialist Surrey seamers at New Road.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” Edwards, who had been named in a 13-man squad, told ecb.co.uk.
Worcestershire chose to bat first but Edwards and Surrey could not break through in the 26.1 overs before rain forced an early lunch and wiped out the rest of the day.
The next day Moeen Ali became Edwards’ first championship wicket, caught behind for 61, as the hosts were dismissed for 285.
“I was ridiculously nervous,” Edwards revealed. “After those first couple of overs I settled in and it was more like bowling at anyone else really in the other cricket matches I’ve played in. So it was all right. I enjoyed it.
“I was pleased with how it went. I thought I could have done a bit more, but overall I think I’d take that in the first innings.”
Surrey struggled in their reply and Edwards came in at a perilous 43 for eight.
Joining opening batsman Jacques Rudolph, he contributed 17 to a 60-run stand until he edged David Lucas behind.
Edwards reflected: “It was very good fun actually, relaxed almost. He’s an incredibly experienced player who helped me out a bit. So it was good, a good experience.”
The partnership was not enough to prevent Surrey from following on but, from 11 for two, Kevin Pietersen launched a recovery with a counter-attacking 69.
Rory Hamilton-Brown and Tom Maynard followed up with boundary-laden centuries to enable the visitors to declare on 431 for seven, setting Worcestershire 260 to win in 52 overs.
Edwards, who was not surprised to bat again, said: “We always back our batsmen to go out here and score runs.
“If you look at our line-up, there’s a lot of experience and talent in there so it’s quite a surprise when we don’t go out there and bat how we did in the second innings.
“Even when we got bowled out for 113 we always thought, if we bat how we know we can bat in the second innings, we can win this game.
“We never thought about drawing or seeing it out, we went out there thinking we were going to win. So it felt more of a loss when we did actually draw.”
Having enjoyed 24 hours’ rest, Edwards tore into Worcestershire and twice took two wickets in an over en route to figures of 4-44 from 12.5 overs.
He made Surrey’s initial breakthroughs in the 10th, having Michael Klinger caught at gully and trapping Vikram Solanki lbw, before adding Ben Scott and Aneesh Kapil who fell to expansive shots in the 34th.
That left the home side 100 for seven, but they held out for a draw. Edwards bowled the final five balls before the teams shook hands with Worcestershire on 150 for eight.
“I felt in a very good rhythm. I thought it went well,” he added.
“I was gutted that we couldn’t get the last couple of wickets, that was very frustrating. I was disappointed that we didn’t quite get the win and I didn’t bowl those two balls to get us a couple of wickets.
“When you look back on it now I feel quite happy about the way I went about things in that match overall.”
With Dernbach and Meaker back for the visit of Somerset to the Kia Oval from tomorrow, Edwards may have to make way this week.
If that is the case, he remains pragmatic about first-team opportunities.
“It’s always good to be around players like that. Even if you’re not playing you can always learn,” he concluded.
“You’re always pushing yourself. Everyone’s always pushing each other to be the best they can. It’s a good environment to be in.”