Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Surrey toil as Somerset take charge

Somerset ended day one at the Oval firmly in the ascendancy on 441-5 as a flat pitch cancelled out Surrey's four seam bowlers and Gareth Batty.

Gone was the nibbling Oval pitch of earlier in April as we saw a return to the kind of pitch we're more familiar with in SE11. No wonder Mark Ramprakash was cursing being dropped, he would've looked at this pitch and seen the answer to his dreadful recent run of form.

Jade Dernbach was rested (and looking at the figures of his colleagues, he won't be disappointed) so Chris Jordan and George Edwards both played. Somerset won a crucial toss and chose to bat. They reached the 10th over without losing a wicket and 44 runs to the good, nine boundaries came from the first 60 balls as Lewis and Jordan failed to make any inroads with the new ball.

Meaker and Edwards had little more luck and although the former did snare the wicket of Barrow in his fourth over, Somerset had set the tone and looked on course for a big total almost from the word go. No further wickets fell for another 32 overs as Suppiah and Compton added 143 at better than four and a half runs per over.

Suppiah was run out by Maynard soon after reaching his hundred but Hildreth came to the crease and added 84 with run-machine Compton and 108 with Kieswetter as Surrey searched for answers, and found very few.

The new ball 16 overs before close didn't signal much in the way of a change in fortune, but Lewis did trap the motoring Kieswetter for a rapid 49 and just three overs before the end of the day Hildreth was out in the same manner to de Bruyn to give him figures of 2-34, the pick of Surrey's bowlers.

Almost 60% of Somerset's runs came in boundaries - there were 64 of them in total. As ever it's unwise to be overly critical of either side until both have batted but with virtually all bowlers ticking along at 4 an over (in Jordan's and Edwards' case, over 5) it wasn't their finest hour.

Somerset will want to bat and bat some more, they probably have something around the 550-600 mark in mind and will hope that they only have to bat once. Having seen Suppiah, Compton and Hildreth all making hay, RHB and his merry men will have big scores of their own in mind but they'd do well to be patient. Only the captain and Maynard are in good Championship form so going out looking to crash the ball to all parts from ball one could still end in tears, no matter how flat the pitch is.

A tough day at the office for Surrey then, there will be some aching bodies in the dressing room but they need to dust themselves off for tomorrow. Even for this positive Surrey side it is almost impossible to win from here but Philander (and to a lesser extent Dockrell) aside, Somerset have a very unproven attack, so losing the game should be a million miles from their minds as well.

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