The arrival of a dry day in May – and some sunshine and warmth for a change – meant compulsory testing the quality of cake at the Oval and the lemon and basil did not disappoint.
All three elements – sun, cake and cricket – make for the most tremendous day and full of joy after all that we’ve been through.
So, this match is Surrey against Gloucestershire – the latter being one of the leaders in this part of the Championship, whilst Surrey have been struggling.
One wonders if Gloucestershire’s success to date is a Sampson like strength gained from a collective growing of hair during lockdown? Their number of mullets, bandannas and shoulder length hair must fill the hairdressers of Gloucester with dread at the prospect of hours of cutting and styling. I’ve never seen so much head hair in one team before.
Win the toss and bat on a greenish pitch (but with warm – dare one say ‘hot’ – weather forecast it will dry out) was Surrey’s choice. By mid-afternoon Day 1, the plan looked a bit off at 133/4 and with, on paper, a weak batting line up towards the end, received wisdom was that 200 would be a good score. However, Amla had other ideas, dropped anchor while the pitch dried, encouraging others to keep the score rumbling onwards. Joined by Overton just before tea…this looked hopeful at best, fanciful at least. But what do I know!
Amla reached his 100 and Overton his 50 just before close of play at 285/5.
Day 2 was cooler and increasingly cloudy which should have suggested Glosters quicks would flourish. They did after one ball sending Overton back but Sean Abbott (Surrey debut of the Aussie all rounder), Ricki Clarke and Amla decided otherwise.
Amla ended an excellent innings of 173 mid afternoon – full of elegance, cover drives of such sumptuous nature you can’t believe, the occasional play and miss but overall great patience and letting everyone around him play. But not before one of the oddest reasons for play stopping – ‘a fire in the building’ booms a disembodied voice across the ground. Play halts for 5 minutes; players, umpires, stewards and crowd stayed where they were. We assume it’s ok since we’re still here but the odds are on a over-zealous builder somewhere in the new development which is slowly taking shape!
Once 400 and then 450 had been reached, you wonder why bat on – but a quick slog from Clarke and tail end antics from Virdi (dancing as if he’s got a new tune in his head) and Moriarty (playing the villain of the piece in not scoring) saw Surrey end at 473 on the stroke of tea.
How will this match play out…with a drying pitch, getting flatter and good weather, I can’t see Gloucestershire rolling over twice by Sunday evening but with scoreboard pressure and the need to win to maintain their season…who knows?
Well, the pitch was drying until they decided to play after tea in poor light and increasing rainfall. It suddenly looked like a different pitch with two spinners in tandem to keep play going. Abbott looks very lively and could be a handful tomorrow and with scoreboard pressure Gloucestershire resume in the morning on 45/1.
Perhaps they need some hair restoring overnight?