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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Sport
Matthew Cooper

Surrey targeting T20 Blast glory after 'dominating' ahead of quarter-final vs Yorkshire

Laurie Evans has boldly declared that Surrey have one of the strongest sides in domestic T20 cricket as they aim to win the T20 blast for the first time in 19 years.

Surrey were the first side to qualify for the knockout stages after winning their first nine games and ended the group stage with more points than any other county. They are now set to face Yorkshire at the Oval in the quarter-finals with a spot at Finals Day up for grabs.

"We've had a great tournament up until now," Evans told Mirror Sport . "The South Group is a really tough group to get through and we've dominated.

"We've had as strong a side as I can remember playing anywhere around the world, you'd do well to pick a better XI in domestic cricket that's for sure. That's brought pressure as well but we've handled that quite well and played some good cricket and it's always nice to qualify out of the group stages."

And there have been a few changes at Surrey this year, with former captain Gareth Batty taking over as head coach after Vikram Solanki left to join Gujarat Titans in the IPL and England star Chris Jordan returning from Sussex to captain the side.

"Gaz has been at Surrey for a long time and he's had a massive influence on the dressing room," Evans said of Batty's switch to coaching. "He hasn't really changed much from how he was as a captain and a senior figure in the dressing room.

"We have got a very good squad and sometimes it's just about making sure the squad's in the right place mentally and physically to go out and perform. Often, when you've got the experience like we have in our T20 side, there's not a lot of coaching that goes on.

"It's more managing the players and the environment and he's been first class at dealing with that."

Surrey have "dominated" the group stages under the new coach and captain combination of Gareth Batty and Chris Jordan (Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Surrey CCC)

Evans was also full of praise for Jordan's captaincy, having previously played alongside the seamer for several years at Sussex. "He's been fantastic," he said.

"He's not really done anything different in terms of what he normally does, he's always there helping bowlers no matter what team he plays for and offers a lot of experience and knowledge.

"The way he's gone about his cricket and helped bowlers throughout his career has set him up for captaincy and he's been brilliant."

Surrey have also benefitted from the presence of two West Indies legends in their ranks. Sunil Narine has blasted 199 runs at a strike-rate of 164.64 and picked up 13 wickets at an average of 21.84. Kieron Pollard was also starting to find some form as Surrey's finisher, before a knee injury ruled him out of the remainder of the tournament.

"Sunny's been outstanding with both bat and ball, there's not many better who offer a complete all-round package," Evans said. "He's been fantastic, no one can play him and no one seems to be able to bowl at him at the minute.

"He's a very quiet guy, whereas Polly's more of an outward leader and has a bit of influence in and around the dressing room. It was a shame he got injured when he did because he added some real depth to our batting.

"They've both brought fantastic quality in different ways and they're the best of mates so that's really nice to play with as well."

Overseas stars Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine have also made an immediate impact, although Pollard is now injured (Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Surrey CCC)

Surrey have only won the Blast once before in their history, emerging victorious in the inaugural edition back in 2003. Evans, meanwhile, won the tournament in 2014 with Warwickshire and was named player of the match in the final after scoring 53.

And he says it would "mean the world" if he was able to help Surrey go all the way this year, having come through the club's academy before pursuing opportunities elsewhere. "It would mean a lot to win it with Surrey," he said.

"I started here as a youth and got released unfortunately, but [Director of Cricket and England legend] Alec Stewart and his brother Neil were a massive part of my development as a young player and to be able to come back is incredible. "It would mean the world to be able to deliver a trophy for Surrey."

And Evans is excited by the prospect of reaching another Finals Day, adding: "It's certainly the best day of the year in terms of county cricket and I don't think there's a better day in domestic cricket in the world.

"Edgbaston do it very well, I won it there playing at home for Warwickshire which was amazing and I've been to Finals Day with Sussex and Surrey as well and lost. They are very enjoyable days, the crowd loves it, the whole country loves it and it's where you want to be as a player.

"The worst thing is losing the quarter-final because you know you're not going to Finals Day. So in some ways, the quarter-finals are the biggest games because you don't want to miss out on Finals Day. We've got some cricket to play before that, but it's certainly the best day of the year and we're looking to put our hands around the trophy because it's been a long time since we've done it."

Evans is an ambassador for Step One (Step One Underwear)

Evans was speaking to Mirror Sport on behalf of underwear brand Step One. "Step One are a great brand to work with, and what's important for me are their values," he said.

"The underwear they offer is the best I've ever worn. They're extremely comfortable, and fits all body types, and there is a real emphasis on body positivity and sustainability."

Laurie Evans is an ambassador for Step One, the sustainable and ethical underwear brand, created to offer unbelievable comfort for men and women inclusive for all body shapes and sizes.

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