Any hope of Surrey bringing a rapid end to the London derby was gradually extinguished by a battling Middlesex performance on day three. A third successive draw looms for Graeme Smith's side as Middlesex lead by 111 runs with eight second innings wickets in hand.
The day began perfectly for Surrey as only five runs were added to the Middlesex total before de Bruyn picked up his third wicket of the innings, Collymore plumb lbw to bring a close to proceedings on 166 - 172 runs in arrears. There was some debate as to whether Smith should enforce the follow-on. Middlesex were on the back foot, there was heavy cloud over the ground and the few overs in the morning had seen some movement for the bowlers.
In the end that was enough to persuade the skipper as he sent the opposition back out to bat. What ensued thereafter was a quite extraordinary fight back from a side not short on character and guts. Early on there were a couple of edges that fell short and during the course of the innings there were some dicey run out chances, but all in all Sam Robson and Chris Rogers played superbly to lead Middlesex to safety. The pair saw off the good balls and put away the bad ones, it was intelligent cricket and it was impressive. Rogers was first to his hundred, his 59th in First Class cricket, and his eighth score of fifty or more in nine games against Surrey, and shortly after Robson went to his sixth hundred.
The heavy roller seemed to have sapped any life from the wicket. Surrey's bowlers ran in gamely throughout the entire day but they had very little to work with. Again it was de Bruyn who made the breakthrough eventually, having Robson caught down the leg side, but by that point the partnership had reached a record-breaking 259. Jade Dernbach tested both Rogers and Robson with the short delivery but had to wait until his fourth delivery with the second new ball before he found any success - having Joe Denly caught at slip. Nightwatchman Steven Finn and Rogers took Middlesex to the close on 283-2 comfortably.
A day that promised so much delivered very little in the end, and it seems the rare chance to win at Lord's has again passed us by. Its hard to fault the effort from Surrey today despite the disappointment. You can look back at the decision to enforce the follow on but in reality the wicket has flattened out so it is likely that we would have found it difficult to force a result anyway. At the time enforcing the follow on was, in my opinion, the right call. We need a win, the overhead conditions were good for bowling and there was some evidence of variable bounce - evidence which later evaporated.
Middlesex now have all the momentum. That said I would be surprised, given the flatness of the pitch, if they are thinking about declaration any time soon. What seemed to be boiling up into a very intriguing battle now looks likely to peter out into another bore draw. It would take a considerable deterioration of the surface to make this game even remotely interesting. Well, that or some very brainless batting - from either side.
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