Saturday, 20 April 2013

Creditable draw for Surrey on disappointing final day

Neither captain seemed overly keen to manufacture a result on the final day of Surrey's opening Championship fixture and they shook hands on the draw late in the day.

When four wickets went down before lunch there was hope that the home side could force an unlikely win. However a frustrating partnership between Petersen (who else?) and Buttler wrested back some of the initiative for Somerset. I thought that Smith's decision to open the bowling with de Bruyn after lunch was an odd one, given that a wicket at that point would've surely given the opposition some serious jitters.

As it was, Petersen and Buttler continued to accumulate. Batty eventually broke Petersen's resolve with a wicket almost out of nowhere. But it wasn't until Keedy was withdrawn from the attack in favour of Meaker that things really started to happen again. Having earlier taken the wickets of Compton and Trescothick he then added Trego, Thomas and Overton in quick succession in the afternoon session to complete his five-for. It was a drastic improvement on his day one bowling but nonetheless I've still seen Meaker bowl far better than he did today. Worryingly he didn't return to the field after the tea break so he must be a doubt for next week's game.

When Petersen fell there were still more than 40 overs left in the game and Somerset were 211 runs ahead. There was more than enough time to at least have a sighter at a result, but perhaps neither captain wanted to risk kicking off the season with a defeat. Or maybe Trescothick wanted Buttler to get his season off and running with a hundred. Either way it was disappointing to see the game fizzle out the way it did.

Given the position his side were in on Thursday evening Smith may be the happier of the two skippers today, but there are still issues to be ironed out. The feeble batting at the start of our first innings which necessitated a bit of a go-slow thereafter will be a concern.

The selection of two spinners didn't turn out to be the right one, but I'm not sure I'd place the blame squarely at Chris Adams' door for that. The pitch was pretty solid for batting even as the match drew to a close so two, three, four or more spinners probably wouldn't have made much difference. Indeed across the 300+ overs in the match only 5 wickets fell to spin at 64 runs apiece, while seamers took 23 at 27. Adams was doubtless expecting a dry surface that would bring the spinners into their own on days three and four. That didn't materialise and in any case we didn't win the toss so would not have been best placed to take advantage.

In addition, Gary Keedy had a pretty poor debut when you consider his pedigree, his bowling today was particularly disappointing and if I was Adams I'd be tempted to go with three seamers (one of whom should be Tremlett), Batty and Tom Jewell for the next game. Zander de Bruyn should make way, as well as Keedy and I'd give serious consideration to preferring Roy over Solanki. Apart from Roy's form with the bat we looked a little lethargic in the field and he'd certainly help in that department.

In light of Keedy's form I also think we should play more to our strengths and prepare a wicket for the seamers. To the outsider it might seem odd that a club who has the services of Meaker, Dernbach, Linley, Tremlett, Lewis, Dunn and Edwards to call on prefer to try and prepare a spinner's wicket in April. Our next game is against Sussex and good side though they are, we should be confident of out-gunning their seam bowling unit. Plus in Monty Panesar they have a very dangerous spinner.

So many changes would suggest panic but that's not the case, there are positives to be drawn from this game. We didn't lose after being in a precarious position, and against good quality opposition (though we will face stronger bowling units for sure). Rory Burns has picked up where he left off in 2012, Steven Davies looks to be back to his best and Jade Dernbach made a superb start to his Championship campaign against one of the strongest batting lineups in the country.

Oh and those Doric columns on the pavilion are looking very impressive. Roll on round two.


miltonkeynesman said...

Sounds like we had a couple of chances during the day. In the end I guess the second day weather condemned it to a draw. Hope you had your sun block on.


GreenJJ said...

Yeah the lost time on day two always left the game struggling to catch up. Weather was superb today and fortunately I did have my suncream! Bring on Sussex now.