One day's play is complete and Surrey's chances of a victory at the Home of Cricket are all but gone thanks to an abject batting performance barely a week after completely annihilating Northamptonshire with a virtuoso performance.
Such is the fate of a young and developing side, but we shouldn't just put it down to that. There's no two ways about it, the batting today resembled the bad old days of early this season, nowhere near enough players taking responsibility for their wicket and the net result was a total at least 200 runs short - as Middlesex showed us later in the day. Ramprakash was our top scorer as is often the case but no man is an island, even when he's as good as Ramps.
The opening issue is the biggest of all, it remains the only of the top 8 wickets this season to have not yielded a hundred partnership. The return of Michael Brown cannot come soon enough, Davies belongs down the order and too much pressure is being heaped on the young shoulders of Tom Lancefield. I wouldn't mind seeing young Kenyan international opener Seren Waters given a chance sooner rather than later either.
The bowlers were given a thankless task in defending such a low total and they started well, the first 10 or so overs going at barely 1 an over but it was always just a matter of Middlesex's openers seeing off the new ball and then bedding in. All the top four contributed and Shah and Malan look set to grind Surrey into the dirt tomorrow, we have a massive fight on our hands to stave off defeat here.
Oh and another thing, though I believe the makeup of the side today is correct, I am concerned that the selection of Afzaal is wrong. I like Usman and I am on record as saying I'd like to see him stay at Surrey, but I am at a loss as to identify what he has done in terms of run-scoring to justify his selection ahead of, say, Laurie Evans who's been scoring runs for fun in the Second XI. I wonder if Usman's days may be numbered now in any case, he seems totally devoid of form and unable to claw it back.
Unless a bundle of wickets fall tomorrow morning we are staring down the barrel of a three day defeat. As ever, character and fight are the order of the day, if we get that, who knows!
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