Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Dernbach rescues Surrey from chastening day

Two performances stand out on day one of Surrey's County Championship campaign. Jade Dernbach, who returned figures of 4-42 on a generally unresponsive pitch and Alviro Petersen. Again.

Chris Adams opted for a four man attack with two spinners and no room for Chris Tremlett. It seems that the coach was, not unreasonably, unwilling to risk the England seamer as one of only two front line seamers. Dernbach was preferred to Linley despite the latter's superior returns in pre-season, and as expected Meaker joined him. Given the set up of the side it was an important toss to win...the toss was duly lost and Somerset elected to bat first.

Petersen, a winter recruit for Somerset, had a superb day and took his average against Surrey to 104, and his average at the Oval to 125 as he led his side to 344 for 8. Things had not looked so rosy for the West Country side when just 1 run was scored in the first five overs, and even that was a leg bye. Matters got worse for them as Compton was bowled for a duck by a rapid Dernbach yorker, and he had Petersen in real trouble first ball with a slower ball. This was part of an exceptional opening spell which gave him figures of 1-5 from five overs. His new ball partner Meaker had considerably less success on an unusually poor day for him despite a wicket late in the day. Meaker generally bowled too much on the batsman's legs and was punished.

After Compton's departure Hildreth and Trescothick set about building but the captain fell in Gareth Batty's first over to reduce Somerset to 58-2. By the 20th over it was spin at both ends, almost unheard of so early in the season. The placid nature of the day one pitch was laid bare once Dernbach's testing spell was done and Hildreth comfortably took the side to lunch with Petersen on 115-2.

Dernbach returned to bowl Hildreth in the first over after lunch, bringing Craig Kieswetter to the crease. He and Petersen formed an excellent partnership of 143, threatening to bat Surrey out of the match. It was a dogged bowling effort from Surrey and chiefly Dernbach to drag Somerset back from 260-3 to 344-8 by the close. It was however Batty, partnership breaker extraordinaire, who snared the wicket of Kieswetter just six overs before the new ball was due but when it arrived Dernbach re-entered the fray with the wickets of Buttler and Trego in consecutive balls. Zander de Bruyn,  Surrey's third seamer in this game, finally trapped Petersen lbw a couple of overs before the close and Meaker clean bowled Jamie Overton to end the day on a more positive note.

To have any chance of a positive result in this game Surrey really need the pitch to start taking turn - which given the selection of two spinners it surely will. Unfortunately for them Somerset now have almost 350 runs on the board, a couple of wickets still in hand and a decent spinner of their own. Besides the remaining Somerset wickets Surrey first need to knuckle down and grind out a big total. Such was Somerset's scoring rate that even if Surrey reach parity there's still time for a result.  Graeme Smith has a fight on his hands in his first match as captain.

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