46.3, 50.4 and 56.3. What are those numbers? The Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index from early 2009? Jerry West's average points per game in the NBA in the mid 1960s? Yes, it is those things in part, but more importantly its the number of overs Surrey have batted against Middlesex in the last three completed innings. Not very good.
Pity poor Tom Maynard, left stranded on 98 not out as his team mates wafted and clobbered their way back to the pavilion. Surrey, having taken Middlesex's final five wickets in reasonably good time (huge credit to Gareth Batty for his five-for) were all out for just 203 in reply. Aside from Maynard's valiant effort, Surrey managed to bat out 34 fewer balls than Neil Dexter did on his own. At this point I will hand over to the Guardian's David Hopps who on the County Cricket Live blog summed it up much better than I could:
"Discipline is not a word that will be used about Surrey much this season if the afternoon session at Lord's is any evidence, writes David Hopps. They have batted like a big county in a rush, a big county with big ideas that wants the big rewards without big application. They have batted like a dodgy dot.com start-up, full of high ambitions, slick phrases and dubious substance. They have been very much second best in the London derby."
Hamilton-Brown, having made it to within three of fifty in his customary swashbuckling style was out trying to whip a straight one through mid-wicket, Davies poked at one, de Bruyn tried to cut one too close to him, Batty and Jordan were out to ill-advised wafts and Arafat tried a slog sweep with the score on 162-7. All the while Maynard continued his form from the Glamorgan game and richly deserved his second successive hundred despite being dropped at least once.
Middlesex inevitably enforced the follow on with Surrey well over 200 in arrears and shortly after they did so Michael Brown was back to the pavilion for no score and de Bruyn got a snorter from Finn first ball to join Brown. That completed the set, all of Surrey's top four out for a duck in one day, Wilson and Davies in the first innings and Brown and de Bruyn in the second. Mercifully we remained two down as stumps were drawn and Wilson and Davies will resume tomorrow morning with making Middlesex bat again still a distant speck on the horizon.
So, what to make of all that? Our innings today puts into perspective how poorly we did in fact bowl yesterday afternoon, while Middlesex galloped to 450 at 4+ an over, we limped to 200 all out. It is also the first time our batters have faced a pitch with even a little bit of spice in it after two dead-as-a-doornail tracks at the Oval and in Cardiff, Maynard aside they did not come out of the examination well.
There is strength in our side, of that I have no doubt, and missing Meaker, Tremlett and of course Ramprakash will hurt any side, but its the fact that the same old mistakes are being made which worries me the most. In an interview on the 23rd of March Chris Adams had the following to say:
"Now is time for this squad to embrace what taking responsibility is all about, and absorbing the pressure when it comes to focusing on what they can control and not what they can't control, that's the job of the manager really."
That is exactly what they did not do today. Yes they are a young side, and yes things take time to bed in, but these are the mistakes made in the Worcester game last year, and others besides, something isn't working at Surrey. I'm not suggesting they are doing anything other than working bloody hard, but something just is not working. Anyone who thinks I'm being overly harsh, well fine, that's your prerogative but don't think I enjoy writing this kind of stuff, I don't, I love watching my team win, there is nothing better and in the same vein there's not much worse than the kind of performance put in today. Maybe Gary Wilson and Steve Davies will pull off a great escape tomorrow, goodness knows I hope they do, but it won't disguise the fact that for the vast majority of the first innings here, batting and bowling, we just weren't up to the mark.