Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Surrey on top, but Read and Voges fight

The wonderful summer of 2012 continued unabated today as 54 overs were wiped from the day's play at Trent Bridge. At the early close of play Nottinghamshire were 178-5.

Play started on time this morning as Surrey won the toss and elected to field. The man calling the toss for Surrey today was not Gareth Batty as we have come to expect, but Zander de Bruyn in his stead. Such were the seam friendly conditions that Adams decided he could not go in with two spinners and the stand-in skipper was the man jettisoned. Given that Steven Davies was appointed vice captain at the start of 2011 it is strange that de Bruyn was called on to skipper instead, indeed it makes it harder to ignore the fact that Davies has not yet signed an extension to his current contract which expires this year.

Whether Batty was party to the decision or not (one hopes he was), I think this was an odd call, in an increasingly long line of odd calls. Batty is widely regarded as the glue that has held the dressing room together in recent weeks so to see him cast aside in favour of Murali Kartik is disappointing, Kartik himself has hardly set the world alight with his Championship bowling. If spin was going to play such a small part in the match, is Kartik really a much better option than an in form Batty? 

Meanwhile, Tim Linley was preferred in place of Chris Tremlett who was not risked for a second consecutive Championship match, and Chris Jordan also came in as a fourth fast bowling option.

The match began at a frenetic pace with openers Hales and Wessels carrying on where they left off in last night's CB40 match, five balls in the first two overs were pinged to the boundary. By the end of the fourth over Nottinghamshire had 30 runs on the board. However in the sixth over came the breakthrough, Tim Linley finding the edge of Wessels' bat to send him back for a run-a-ball 23.

His dismissal served to quieten things down somewhat as a period of three overs for two runs followed. As the pressure built Jon Lewis picked up the wicket (rather fortunately) of Alex Hales who could only watch as a ball he'd defended dribbled on to his stumps. De Bruyn had introduced Jordan to the attack and the effect was almost immediate as he trapped Lumb lbw with the first ball of his second over. It was a fine start for Jordan who reeled off three maidens with his first three overs.

Meaker was then let loose and similarly he had success in his second over as Samit Patel edged a ball going down the leg side. Always a poor shot to get out to but in truth Meaker had started excellently despite conceding six from his opening over. That left Notts 59-4 but so powerful is their batting that you're never truly on top until you get well into the tail.

Surrey made good progress in that direction though as Meaker picked up his second wicket with the dangerous James Taylor edging him into the slips. At 84-5 we were looking rampant. However Chris Read and Adam Voges had other ideas. The same pair had put on 143 to stymie the Middlesex bowlers last week and while dodging the showers today they put on another 94 together, and will return to the crease unbeaten tomorrow morning.

It is the kind of captain's knock we've come to expect from Read, and Voges is the sort of overseas player Chris Adams probably dreams of. The bowling wasn't at its best though, 28 boundaries came in 42 overs and only one bowler (Jordan) was able to restrict the flow of runs to below four an over. Voges was also dropped on five by Spriegel in the slips off the bowling of Meaker. He could yet make us pay dearly for that mistake.

As ever it is very hard to tell where the balance of power lies in a match when only one side has batted, but Surrey will probably sleep relatively easy tonight. Of course they would like to have seen the back of one of Read or Voges today but persistent cloudy conditions tomorrow, if they don't dump too much rain, should keep the bowlers interested. Our batsmen will already have seen some variable bounce today which won't make their reply terribly easy, but the bowlers can go some way to relieving a bit of the pressure with early wickets tomorrow.

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