I personally don't find 500-plays-500 to be a particularly mouthwatering prospect. Of course Napier's and Hamilton-Brown's knocks were impressive but give me a fair fight between bat and ball any day.
When our sixth wicket fell, still something on the order of 100 runs short of the follow-on target I began to worry, but to the rescue, again, came Gareth Batty. His 79 in concert with de Bruyn and Arafat hauled Surrey up to withing 42 of Essex's total. A third draw in three years at Whitgift beckons unless we suffer a second innings collapse. With wins at an absolute premium can we afford to be playing games on such batsman-friendly wickets?
Essex closed the day on 112-2, 154 runs ahead and with Graham Napier still to come. He could be the key to a result tomorrow, if Walker and Cook make a decent start they may elect to push Napier up the order and see if they can accelerate towards a lead of something on the order of 350 and give Surrey 50-60 overs to get it in. Now that would make for entertaining cricket.
I've not seen the pitch but given that Batty and Pietersen bowled 20 of 37 second innings overs today, one assumes the pitch is taking some turn, Meaker bowled just a single over. Arafat was expensive (and bowled the obligatory no-ball), Tremlett less so and he picked up the Pettini (but he bowled two no-balls). Tomorrow should at least be cricket on a more even keel, though the pitch still seems to be favouring the batsman.
Azhar Ali - One of the World's Best
6 days ago