Saturday, 7 April 2012

Surrey edge towards opening victory

It was a day of hard graft for Surrey as Sussex refused to roll over and be beaten on the third day at the Oval. Sussex ended the day on 240-8, needing another 102 runs for victory.

Lewis, Meaker and Dernbach cobbled together a further 33 crucial runs this morning to take the lead past 340, a tough ask for any team. It was another day under heavy cloud and the start was delayed because of bad light (despite the lights being on - confusing).

Even more confusing was Hamilton-Brown's decision - not for the first time - to give Zander de Bruyn the new ball. Despite the conditions being ideal, and having three rapid seam/swing bowlers in Meaker, Dernbach and Jordan in the ranks, the skipper opted for his military medium allrounder. To his credit, de Bruyn did at least keep it tight.

Jon Lewis made the breakthrough, clean bowling Nash who had started brightly. Meaker, who was not introduced until the 10th over, duly made an immediate breakthrough, bowling Ed Joyce. He trapped Goodwin lbw just a few overs later, Sussex were wobbling at 40-3, but Luke Wells stood firm.

Another curious decision from Hamilton-Brown was to bring Batty into the attack before either of Jordan and Dernbach. Not surprisingly, when Dernbach was introduced into the attack in the 25th over it took him just a couple of overs to have an impact, picking up the wicket of Yardy, also lbw.

Gatting and Wells helped Sussex recover before Batty got in on the act, having first innings top-scorer Gatting caught by Dernbach. It was then Ben Brown's turn to frustrate the Surrey bowlers but he and Naved fell in relatively quick succession.

Thoughts of a rapid denouement were dismissed further by Amjad (15) and then Anyon again (11 not out). The general consensus seems to be that Surrey bowled too short far too often today. You'd have thought with some juicy cloud overhead, it would be a no-brainer to pitch the ball up in order that it has the best chance to find movement through the air.

In reality with only two wickets still standing, and 102 runs still to get, a Surrey victory should be something of a formality. But it's never that simple. Luke Wells, who in notching the top score of the match in the fourth innings has played a blinder, will return to the crease tomorrow morning and James Anyon, a thorn in Surrey's side throughout this match, will be no pushover either.

The forecast for tomorrow doesn't look too good, heavy cloud and rain could halt Surrey's progress at times, although when we do get out onto the field we should at least have ideal bowling conditions - as long as they're bowling the right length of course.

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