Surrey are but one Northamptonshire wicket away from holding their 2012 destiny in their own hands as they closed day one against Derbyshire on precisely 400-8.
That score, made in just 96 overs gave them a full quota of five batting points while Northants look likely to pick up four at the most against Gloucestershire - they are 316-9 with only 14 overs left to score the 84 runs they need for full batting bonus. Surrey's 400 was made largely on the back of Tom Maynard's third Championship hundred of the season, with handy contributions from the usual suspects Steven Davies and Zander de Bruyn.
In scoring their runs today Davies and Maynard passed 1,000 runs for the season, giving Surrey four players past the mark in 2011. By way of comparison in 2010 just one player, Mark Ramprakash, made it past the 1,000 run mark. Surrey batsman comprise 40% of the top ten leading runscorers in Division Two, no other county has more than one representative.
Surrey were helped along the way by some profligate bowling from Derbyshire, Mark Footitt was particularly wasteful. With Surrey on the verge of 400 Footitt first bowled Meaker and then had him caught in the gully, both off no-balls.
The only negatives from today were the low scores (or no-scores) of Ramprakash and Hamilton-Brown. Their dismissals left Surrey reeling at 12-2 and ordinarily a further collapse might have been in the offing. But this is a different Surrey, this Surrey has self-belief and confidence as first Davies and de Bruyn, then Maynard and Roy, and then Maynard all by himself dug us out of the hole. Tom Maynard stood up to be counted quite beautifully today.
Stuart Meaker and Tim Linley will return to the crease tomorrow morning, presumably with some license to give the ball a whack. Hamilton-Brown will then look to them to deliver the goods with the ball as well. I think 400 plus whatever the last three can cobble together is better than par, and our bowlers should be looking at bowling out Derbyshire cheaply to gain a healthy first innings lead.
The idea of First Division cricket is all of a sudden looking very possible, if not quite probable just yet. There is still a lot of cricket to be played in this and the Northants game, but we are well on top, and the Surrey of the late-2011 season is not the type of team to let things slip. Keep it up lads!
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