A day that promised so much for Surrey ended with them staring down the barrel of a big first innings total from Derbyshire. The home side closed on 232-2 and are well set to push on towards 400 tomorrow.
Play was delayed until 3.15pm as last night's rain stubbornly refused to disappear. Earlier in the day Jade Dernbach had been called into the England ODI squad as cover for Tim Bresnan forcing Chris Adams' hand somewhat. There was apparently some thought given to selecting two spinners again but in the end the three seamer approach was adopted. Jason Roy had to make way for Ricky Ponting despite looking in good touch yesterday evening. It is true that Roy's returns this season in Championship cricket have been poor but bear in mind that he has been playing out of position. He is never going to develop into a bona fide Championship cricketer until he's allowed to develop in the middle order.
Gareth Batty lost his second toss in two days and Derbyshire opted to have a bat. The game is being played on the same pitch as last night's nine over affair. It looked a mighty fine surface yesterday and it doubtless still looked a good one today.
Despite that the Derbyshire openers failed to capitalise. Chesney Hughes was bowled first ball by the returning Chris Tremlett and Billy Godleman fell ten overs later to leave the home side 29-2. Tremlett's opening six over spell contained three maidens plus the wicket. It was notable that he was given six overs where previously this season he'd been restricted to four over spells. That bodes well for his fitness. Linley's opening spell was less parsimonious - he gave up five boundaries in his first five overs (although nothing whatsoever apart from those five boundaries) but he too collected a wicket.
Batty will have hoped that the introduction of Meaker into the attack would account for Madsen and Chanderpaul - the spine of the Derbyshire batting. However once again he struggled with his line. He gave away a boundary off his first ball and four byes off his second, and remained expensive thereafter. The pressure built up by Tremlett was swiftly released as Chanderpaul and Madsen clobbered their way to a 50 partnership in just 51 deliveries. The early wickets had given Surrey false hope as the two seasoned pros exposed the excellent nature of the surface.
Although Tremlett returned to bring some order to proceedings he was unable to make the breakthrough. Indeed for the remainder of the shortened day no Surrey bowler managed ro find a way through. Late into the evening Chanderpaul went to his hundred off just 116 balls and Madsen looked to be following him serenely before bad light brought an early close.
It was another poor first day for Surrey. Batty was not afforded enough control by his bowlers - in the first 40 overs 12 went for six runs or more. In Championship cricket you simply can't afford to be that generous. Of course Chanderpaul is one of the greats of the modern game, but up to the start of this game his Championship average for 2013 was under 40.
This is a game we cannot afford to lose. Frankly we can't really afford anything other than a win but facing the prospect of a big Derbyshire first innings a few thoughts will already be looking towards salvaging a draw. One saving grace is that we have our very own modern great - Ricky Ponting - to bat as well on a surface that ought to cause our batsmen as few issues as it has caused theirs.
Surrey need to regain control first and foremost. If we can at least stem the flow of runs, a couple of early wickets will bring the Derbyshire middle order into play. In Tremlett and Meaker we have two bowlers who can make mincemeat of lower order on their day so there's hope yet. Restricting them to a total of around 350 would keep us very much in the game, but that requires seeing the back of Chanderpaul first thing tomorrow morning.
Batty has some experienced heads with him in the dressing room and he'll be looking to them to provide the inspiration. We are down in this game, but we're not yet out.
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