Surrey go into the third day of the crucial tie with Essex 166 runs ahead with six second innings wickets still in hand. And guess what? The match is still in the balance.
It was another bravura performance from Tim Linley that dragged Surrey back ahead of the curve today. Essex's openers had put on 100 steady runs in 37 overs before Linley intervened and took four wickets inside ten overs. It was the eighth time this season that the Viscount had snared four or more victims in an innings.
Pragyan Ojha took the wicket of Wheater before Meaker cleaned up the Essex's lower and middle order to record his second consecutive 5-for in Championship cricket. Their first four wickets fell in the space of ten overs and the last five fell in almost exactly the same timeframe. It was only a rapid 56 from Ryan ten Doeschate which saved Essex from an even bigger first innings deficit.
As it was they were bowled out for 253, 62 runs behind. It would seem that Surrey had in mind the grim-looking weather forecast for Saturday throughout their second innings batting. Davies fell in only the third over but Hamilton-Brown, de Bruyn and Maynard all looked to score quickly. Hamilton-Brown was out for 23 off 31 balls, his eleventh score this season between 20 and 40. His role in these situations is to put pressure on the opposition bowling by scoring quickly but with Davies gone so early I thought he might have been a bit more circumspect.
De Bruyn and Maynard were motoring along at better than a run a ball in the evening session and Surrey were looking well set for a decent lead with time left to bowl Essex out. Maynard though was out LBW to Masters off what was the final ball of the day's play.
So Surrey have six wickets left and will want at least 270 runs on the board - with Roy, Batty, Jordan and Meaker still to come, that is possible. De Bruyn needs to stay in while others come in and score around him, the forecast for tomorrow is warm and humid - good conditions to bowl in. A draw in this game does us very little good and with rain likely on Saturday it might be win-or-bust at Chelmsford tomorrow.