Today dawns overcast and cooler than of late, so much so that floodlights are called for at the start of play and for the first hour. Surrey are going to find the Championship a struggle without a world class quick bowler and were unable to exploit the conditions first thing. This meant Somerset moved on serenely and it was only the occasional poor shot or run which was their undoing.
They finished on 337ao on the stroke of 12.30pm giving Surrey an awkward session. Abell was 150no – his highest first class score. Leach was resistant, Siddle thinking he can run faster than his years, and Brooks brought up the rear. At lunch Surrey are 14/0 with Patel often caught in two minds – do I go back or do I go forward, and Burns showing the occasional brilliant stroke amidst all the triggers and now flowing hair!
There are nine test players of various nations playing in this match but so far it’s those who haven’t played tests showing them how it’s done!
The afternoon session was a complete contrast to the morning. Cloud cover increased which led to worse light, a significant drop in temperatures and for Surrey three wickets in relatively short order to be 48/3. Foakes and Pope with 40s each by tea had brought some semblance of order but within their capabilities to reach 118/3 at tea. This session and the next hold the key to the match I think.
Somerset have been chirping away in the field since ball one and a distinct contrast to the silence and downbeat Surrey body language.
Of the 13 wickets to fall, 12 have been catches which suggests – or at least it does to me but then I’m no expert – that the pitch is not playing as true as players expect so the odd ball and poor shot is leading to catches. Burns stood his ground when dismissed and noticeably prodded the pitch as he left…placing subliminal blame on the pitch for his departure – or so it seemed to me.
Since I last worked in London, it has become a city of cycles so it’s not really surprising to see cycle racks provided (if only others did the same…?). What was a surprise was to see a member carrying his bike (albeit it a fold up one) around the Long Room and Pavilion but then, just when you think there’s nothing to surprise you at a cricket match…along comes a bike! Admittedly we have seen in these pages, groundstaff using bikes to get round the ground, but never before in the Pavilion!
By the close Surrey had reached 204/5 with both Pope (caught on the boundary spectacularly – a metre either way and it would have been four) and Foakes back in the pavilion. That makes 14 of 15 wickets caught!
That session was probably key but neither side gained an advantage. Surrey 133 behind but with little ‘substantive’ batting to come. Surrey need to get close to Somerset otherwise chasing a target on the last day could be tricky.
As ever, the third innings of every match is the decisive one but will a bike be needed?