It was one of those days when cricket toys with you. Hopes were raised in the first over of the day, then dashed, then raised again before being extinguished completely more or less around tea time. In the end Surrey left Lord's with a third draw in three this year and continue to wait for their first win at HQ since 1997.
Jade Dernbach opened the bowling and picked up the wicket of Steven Finn with the final ball of the first over of the day. A clatter of Middlesex wickets was the order of the day for Surrey but instead Chris Rogers began tucking in to the bowling with aplomb. He might have had 131 runs to his name at the start of the day but he still had to start again and he was still facing a new ball, it was a masterful innings from one of the best batsmen on the county circuit.
By the time he was bowled for 214 - his second double hundred against Surrey - he'd racked up 83 from 67 balls in the morning session. Given the tempo most other batsmen had scored, it was a remarkable effort even on a flat pitch. With double hundreds from Rogers and Luke Wells, and a big hundred for Alviro Petersen, just three players have scored almost 40% of the runs against Surrey this year.
His partner in crime early in the day, Dawid Malan, upped the pace as well and their partnership of 130 runs was made at 5.6 runs an over. Malan though was out three balls after Rogers trying to launch Chris Tremlett down the ground. Paul Stirling, pushed up the order to score quickly, lasted only seven deliveries before he too fell to Tremlett. Three wickets had fallen for three runs. Unfortunately Middlesex already had 420 on the board.
Neil Dexter and John Simpson added another 90 runs at almost five an over, serving notice of how flat the pitch remained and that fact will have weighed heavily on Chris Rogers' eventual decision not to declare until the lead was 343. With only 48 overs left in the day, a scoring rate of 7.1 would have been required.
Burns and Smith got off to a speedy start with 32 runs off the first six overs suggesting they might have been entertaining the idea of an unlikely win. However once Burns fell and Arun Harinath appeared at number three, the game appeared to be up. Smith continued to score quickly despite some nervy moments against Roland-Jones, while Harinath played his normal game. As the clock struck 5pm hands were shaken and a draw was declared with Surrey 85-1.
Having taken a first innings lead of 172 this has to go down as another one that got away for Surrey. It was though a tough surface for the bowlers. Dernbach put in a fine stint and ended the game with five wickets but him aside it was a disappointing outing for the bowlers. Chris Tremlett has made it through consecutive games unharmed but has just four wickets at 51 to his name, and the two he collected today were thanks to batsmen trying to force the issue. His place in the side has to come into question once Stuart Meaker - whose extra pace we missed desperately in this game - returns from his thigh injury. I'm sure wickets will come in time for Tremlett, he's too good a bowler for that not to happen, but he's not at his best at the moment.
There are positives to take, we bowled out a good side for 166 on day two which even accounting for the most sporting surface of the match and some none-too-clever shots, was a good effort. Rory Burns and Arun Harinath can be very pleased with their efforts with the bat. We outplayed Middlesex for the first two days, but they returned the favour over the following two. We remain win-less and at the wrong end of the table after three games, there's plenty of work to do.
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