Strange days, strange game!

If you make it to the end…perhaps you can tell me what to do with a bucket, drill, tub of margarine and a saucepan?

Now that the rail strikes were over (for the moment?) and the day set fair, I was intrigued by the Surrey/Kent game at the Oval. Surrey had scored 445/5 on day one with two centurions (each 124 – Amla and Geddes) in just under 96 overs.

Was the boundary short on one side? Was the batting lucky or the bowling poor? Kent had already this season broken a record for the number of consecutive innings against them going for over 500 each time…so they have a bit of ‘previous’.

After day one at Chelmsford (308 for 16), what a batting treat was in store! CurranS scored his first first class century, Jacks went to his century after lunch but together they added 190 (yes, one hundred and ninety runs) in the morning session of less than two hours – they came off for a rain break too!

This wasn’t thrashing but controlled batting against what must be said was a very feeble Kent attack – okay, injury plagued but 190 runs in less than 2 hours! Really? When your opening bowler goes for over 150 in the innings and only managed one maiden (and no wickets) you have a problem!

Surrey sailed from 445 to declare at 673/7 just after lunch. This was a slaughter of the innocents! And four centurions in one innings for only the fourth time in over 175 years!

Kent’s reply stuttered after two quick wickets fell but Bell-Drummond and Leaning steadied things (BD would go on to score the 5th century of the match on Day 3) but ended day 2 at 147/2; still 500+ behind. This after a rain break in play with clouds akin to a dark wet November afternoon threatening to end civilisation as we know it but within an hour the sun was beating down, play resumed and any trace of Stygian gloom vanished from the skies! Strange all round!

Compton found things challenging in the first innings
Well left!
Bell-Drummond didn’t look too comfortable to start with!

Equally strange on Day 3 was the decision not to bowl the first line quicks at the start – in fact CurranS did not bowl again in the innings. And as it quite clear that my other choice match of Essex/Hampshire would end that day, I’d get better value in terms of overs from the Oval.

And so it proved! As I said BD got his hundred, Leaning a half century but Kent then went on to lose 8 wickets for just over 120 runs and Surrey asked them to follow on some 342 adrift and with four sessions to survive or Surrey to extend their Championship lead after Hampshire slipped up.

Jacob Duffy at #10 – bet he wished this was all a dream just like Patrick Duffy in Dallas (one for my more mature readers!)
Better this time!

There’s always a part of each match where things go off the boil and so it was for Surrey in the 44 over extended evening session. Compton went to 1,000 runs for the season (first to do it…but could be the second; who knows?) whilst Denly plodded on to see them end the day at 121/0.

Whether the bowlers were ‘tired’ or jaded, who knows but heads went down rather than the foot on the jugular. Burns’ style of captaincy is very much of the Cook/Root style of waiting for something to happen as opposed to making things happen – and it showed. What is also clear for Surrey is the lack of on field chatter/noise…others do it better and appear to be more confident, Surrey just let their results speak for themselves.

Day 4 and strange things again! After a rain delay we had the absurd! Only at a cricket match would everyone come out to play, but before a ball is bowled the umpires stop for rain, covers back on, Kent scurrying back to the pavilion but Surrey and umpires stay out! Order restored in less than 5 mins!

Perhaps Kent should have stayed in the Pav? Curran S bowling – seemingly in very short spells (no reason given but the prime suspect is the ECB) – under the clouds was one of the best spells I’ve seen him bowl. Took out Compton with the ‘old one-two trick’. With Worral taking out Denly the chirping started and at one stage looked like wickets would fall regularly!

And a montage of CurranS in full flow on Day 4

But it was not to be! The afternoon session saw only 1 wicket; Leaning for 43; at tea BD is 59no and Kent 258-3. Over 1,250 runs so far for 20 wickets and with Surrey lacking the killer punch of a test class quick, a draw looks certain!

So it proved…BD scored the 6th century of the match, parity reached and they all walk off. Kent did well after the earlier shambles, Surrey lacked the firepower for the knock out blow but perhaps they’re thoughts at the moment are on the trash and bash and deal with the championship later?

And finally if things couldn’t get any stranger…members of the ground staff this afternoon spotted walking round the boundary and stopping from time to time – with a bucket, drill, hammer, tub of margarine, a saucepan and a mystery container. They seemed to know what they were doing ! Strange or what? And people say ‘nothing happens…’!