Surrey had an up and down day in Chelmsford as the top order collapsed but the lower order stood up, by the close of play the match was finely balanced.
Sent in to bat by Essex skipper James Foster the openers didn't last long, Steven Davies was sent back to the pavilion in the 8th over. The rest of the batting was largely gone when Jason Roy was sixth man out with only 148 runs on the board. The pitch was offering plenty to the bowlers and the cloudy conditions over Chelmsford helped them too. Surrey's 2011 nemesis Graham Napier was the destroyer-in-chief, not content with equalling the world record for most sixes in an innings during his spectacular 196 at Whitgift, he ended the day with career best figures of 6-53.
Only Roy and Hamilton-Brown (who became the second Surrey batsman to pass 1,000 Championship runs this summer during his innings) of the batsmen were able to post any kind of score, with 43 and 31 respectively, scored at a very healthy rate. But the hard graft was done by batsmen seven, eight and nine today. First Gareth Batty, who forged a 54 run partnership with Roy and in doing so himself passed 500 runs for the season, and then Chris Jordan and Stuart Meaker rescued Surrey's innings towards a competitive total. It is interesting to note that the more 'accomplished' batsmen of the top order perished looking to attack the ball - 55% of their runs were scored in boundaries, where the lower-middle order were more circumspect - only 40% of their runs were scored in 4s and 6s.
Special praise should be reserved for Jordan who's had a very lean run with the bat. Without his 71 runs we would be in a far weaker position. It was a career-high score and I hope it spurs him on to greater feats with the ball.
Essex had two overs to bat out at the end of the day. I'd have thought Hamilton-Brown would've wanted their openers, who between them have mustered 96 runs in their last eight innings, to face the in-form Stuart Meaker for one of those overs. Alas no, the new ball was again thrown to Zander de Bruyn to partner Tim Linley. Essex made it safely to the end of the day with no damage done and six runs on the board.
Despite the failure, for the most part, of the top order Surrey are still in a fairly strong position. The forecast for tomorrow is cloudy all day and to have posted 315 on a green pitch is not to be sniffed at. Tim Linley should be a handful and so too Meaker when the skipper finally tosses him the ball (in Hamilton-Brown's defence de Bruyn will probably enjoy the pitch and conditions). Our bowling attack should be a danger throughout tomorrow.
We may have missed out on two bonus batting points, but the 16 points for victory is what really matters in this game, and a bundle of wickets tomorrow morning would go a long way to securing that.