Monday, 11 April 2011

Handshakes all round, its a draw

As boldly predicted on this very blog yesterday, Northants and Surrey played out a draw at the Oval today, but it wasn't all plain sailing for either side through the day.

I said it was unlikely that Surrey would push for the win, but push for the win they did.  After Linley didn't hang about too long in the morning, he lasted only 17 balls, first Maynard then Schofield added rapid scores to propel Surrey towards a lead of just shy of 300.  Northants would require 289 runs in two sessions, Surrey needed 10 wickets.

Northants came out looking to chase the total, Peters and Loye started positively before Meaker and then Schofield, with two good wickets, pegged them back.  First White and then Wakely joined Loye to edge them closer but after they and David Sales were back in the hutch, Andrew Hall and Niall O'Brien didn't appear in much of a mood to chase.  As the final overs approached heavy cloud forced an early close.

So what to take from this game?  First, the positives, Hamilton-Brown looked in cracking form in both innings and he was positive in his declaration today.  Zander de Bruyn has to be seen as a major positive as well, a solid number three to fill in while Ramps is absent is very important.  On the bowling front Tim Linley and Stuart Meaker were impressive in parts.

Stuart Meaker picked up three-for on the final day

And the not-so-positives?  No hundreds and only three fifties on a pitch that was pretty good for two and a half days at least.  Too much quick-scoring and not enough knuckling down, in the first innings in particular.  Yasir Arafat just wasn't at the races enough of the time to provide the consistent threat that we thought he would - I am sure its just a matter of him finding his feet though.  Again our lack of a genuine spinning threat probably cost us a really good chance of pushing for the win.  In 42 overs of spin on the final day on a turning pitch, only two wickets went down to slow bowlers.

Schofield - bowled economically on day four but only collected two wickets

I have some concerns about the selection policy employed in this game which I intend to deal with in a separate post, but broadly speaking there are more positives than negatives from this game, just, chief among them in my view is RHB's positivity today.  Its certainly an improvement on the 200 run defeat Derbyshire, 2010's bottom team, inflicted on us in the opening fixture of last season.

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