Decisions, decisions…

Spoilt for choice as I embark on my 31st day of cricket watching in the last 60 days – how lucky am I?

The match at Chelmsford has the look of 400 plays 400 unless there’s something special happening whilst Surrey/Northamptonshire looks more like coming to a conclusion today.

And the forecast for Chelmsford is worse than the Oval…so the Oval it is and it didn’t take long for Surrey to take the last two wickets and enforce the follow on…207 ahead. However the clouds came over, the lights came on and a very light drizzle delayed the start of the Northants defence.

Somehow or other, we’re about 8 overs behind expectations at lunch. Never quite understand rain breaks when it’s not really raining! No one put an umbrella up, no one rushed for cover during that exceptionally light almost non-existence drizzle but we still had to wait for it to pass! Club cricketers across the land would have been straight out there!

I suppose the difference is these are professionals and can’t risk an injury but they are in the entertainment business and watching non-existent drizzle doesn’t rank high on my list of ‘how to be entertained’! I imagine the rules are made by some health and safety ‘expert’ at the ECB who probably knows the price of everything and the value of nothing or how cricket works!

Interestingly, a counter argument to ‘they’re professionals’ is that the outfield wasn’t covered or mopped up after the rain and it was okay to run around on, so why not play?

There’s always the bad light argument to add to the pot but the light was the same at the start of the innings as it was at the end of the other. Just seems odd.

I know the weather is one of the loved variables of cricket but it’s management can border on the absurd!

In terms of play, Northants reach 14/2 at lunch with Gay having been hit on the elbow twice in the last over (no common sense applied like ‘let’s go off for lunch and get things sorted’) which lasted 5 minutes and long enough for Foakes to need two drinks! Why?

After lunch…the first over of a spell and a wicket falls! To me this is one of the odd features of this season so far – I reckon I have seen that happen close to a dozen times! Atkinson does for Procter for 9 (80+no first innings) and a long ‘hang time’ gave Curran S time to move three times in perfecting the catch!

A long afternoon session (2 hrs 45 mins) was brought to an early end by the worst light of the day as the grey clouds rolled in, full of threatening rain but who knows. Surrey bowlers had kept to their lines and lengths throughout (ok, the odd exception but in the main very tight) which brought Northants to 140/7 before the umpires decided they needed a cuppa. There’s a nominal 39 overs to go but it looks like Northamptonshire will be heading up the M1 in their coach sometime this evening.

And so it came to pass, Surrey winning by an innings and 5 runs and didn’t really break into a sweat (and certainly didn’t need any spin this innings). Twelve wickets in the day shows Surrey’s class.

The Atkinson/Overton partnership really took the game away from Northamptonshire yesterday and just added scoreboard and mental pressure but Surrey would still have won but it would have taken longer.

So my decision for tomorrow has been made for me!

When there’s no one else…you have to do it yourself!
‘I bet I’m going to be caught’ thought Kerrigan!
Gay – blow after blow on the arm
When your name is too long for your shirt, give yourself an airport code!
Keogh – down the wrong line but got away with it!
Just avoids the gloves!

Strange game, cricket!

Even better weather today attracts me to the Oval for Day 2 of Surrey v Northamptonshire (I know I saw them for three days last week but that’s the way the fixture list crumbles).

The pitch at the Oval is so far to the left of the ground that it’s almost in Archbishop Tenisons’ front garden – not that the ArchBish who hasn’t been around since the 17th century would notice a cricket match in his garden, which is concrete anyway…but you get my drift!

Yesterday across the nation saw similar scoring rates so that Surrey resume today on 266/6 with Curran S in sight of his first century. But it was not to be…he lasted a short time and Northamptonshire snuck out another so that at 271/8 they were thinking of batting before lunch.

Sometimes even the umpires can’t bear to watch (only joking!)

But no! Atkinson and Overton stuck to their task and addded a record 124 for the ninth wicket before Overton went. ‘Frankie’ Worrall (last seen in these ramblings for Gloucestershire and before that for South Australia in Adelaide) lasted two balls – 6 and out – to leave Surrey at 401ao on the stroke of lunch.

Kerrigan – flexible legs?
Keogh – clearly you need bendy legs to be a spinner!
‘Frankie’ Worrall* – first ball 6
Second ball – out; same footwork (!), same shot

Northamptonshire’s performance confirmed my thoughts from last Sunday in that they lack the ‘killer’ edge in their attack and will struggle to roll sides over twice. Without this, I fear they are doomed to the Second Division (or whatever the ‘experts’ at the ECB decide to have in place next season).

Did someone lay a new pitch during the lunch break? Northamptonshire at tea are 87/5 and with little by way of established batting to come. Surrey’s bowlers have extracted a bit more pace and life from this pitch so that they have the dominant position. Northamptonshire never really got going although I must say that Will Young’s lbw looked ‘generous’ (no, not that Will Young…this is the NZ one!).

Frankie’s snazzy socks!

I suppose the thinking has to look ahead to the follow on and tomorrow – more overcast than today so…? What would you do? But there’s the last session to go.

I do feel sorry for any weed which has had the audacity to peek through the outfield here. At each break, the grounds staff are hunting them down – so any deciding to appear in the last two hours…well, this awaits:

Perhaps I should check my lawn for weeds every two hours?

Post tea and the high clouds as forecast roll in, reducing the warmth of the very sunny and pleasant afternoon. For a while, nothing really happened – bowling wise – and McManus and Procter were starting to look a bit settled but…almost on the hour, one fell then another and…

By the close, 8 down and 250ish behind – looking like following on and perhaps defeat? The complete reverse position Northamptonshire were in this time last week! Strange game, cricket

* you need to be a ‘certain vintage cricket nut’ to get Worrall’s nickname!

Alastair in his pomp

A slightly warmer day than of late greets a large number of spectators to Day 1 of Essex v Yorkshire at the Cloud County Ground (the FM has been dropped as people were expecting to dial into a radio station, and not a facilities management company) and the prospect of Root’s first first class appearance this season. Incidentally the snappers are out in force!

England’s last two captains!

Early arrival was necessary not only to gain a members car park space but also to beat the geriatrics in the race to the best seats! And by the start of play some areas were packed. Where were these people on Sunday?

Looks idyllic in Spring sunshine

Browne’s early departure in the first over and Westley’s later sees Essex lunching on 63/2 with Sir A holding things together on 31no, clearly batting himself into some kind of nick.

Yorkshire have kept to their game plan and bowled well as a group on a pitch with a reasonable green tinge; whether it gets flatter remains to be seen but yesterday’s rain was welcome for the outfield.

As often at the Cloud, the pitch position means large swathes of the ground are cordoned off squeezing members into even smaller spaces whilst the large area set aside for commentary boxes is devoid of seats/chairs but an ideal empty spot. I sometimes think that the game is being played for the benefit of someone other than the paying public and members.

The afternoon passes with sunny periods just like the Essex batting – occasional bursts of scoring interspersed with periods of maidens so much so that tea sees the score 138/2 Sir A 62no and Walter 43no – the latter carrying on from his long stay on Sunday.

The Yorkshire bowling looked less threatening with Brook (thought he was a rising star as a bat) and Root bowling for the last 25 minutes or so. Essex need to increase the scoring rate otherwise batting points will go begging and can Yorkshire take seven more in 44 overs? Well, the way Essex have been playing this season…probably but that all remains to be seen.

Again, not something you see every day!

By the close Sir A had made his century and went for 107; one of his cover drives was ‘worth the gate money alone’ as Richie used to say. Last week he couldn’t buy a run but today…he’s covered in riches!

Bess tries his best
Hill in action

Cook S was sent in as night watch for 4 overs but Walter, homing in on his best score and possibly a century for the second time in five days, managed to keep stealing the bowling.

Sending in #11 to slow down the scoring when you’re in need of batting points seems odd but there we are. Close sees Essex 234/3 having had the better of the day. I suspect Yorkshire having won the toss would have preferred Essex to be all out for that score!

The Yorkshire fast attack is best described as ‘monochrome’ – all right arm, fast medium bowlers, and, to be honest, if it were not for their numbers on their shirts you’d have difficulty distinguishing between all four.

By the close, the pitch was less green and more beige indicating that it has the potential to be a 500 plays 500 match especially as the potential from the Yorkshire bats is greater than Essex.

One interesting side issue was that 90 overs were bowled in five and a half hours and Yorkshire timed their play exquisitely so that the last ball of over 96 was bowled as the clock ticked over to 1800. Professional to the second! But the day belongs to Sir A!

Essex get out of gaol!

I can say with some degree of accuracy that the crowd at the 4th day of the Championship match at Chelmsford has doubled by lunch time to, oh, at least 200. Ok, it’s an overcast and chill day, there are other attractions locally no doubt (not sure what the ‘Ammers are up to) and the prospect of an Essex defeat will surely persuade the one-eyed Essex folk that there are better things to do on a Mayday Sunday.

After an hour and just as the new ball taken, Essex actually gain a lead but it’s taken them nine and a half sessions. By lunch, two more wickets have fallen – Critchley to a poorly chosen drive and Kushi caught behind for 30 not quite to the shiniest new ball but out nonetheless. Critchley and Walter had added 100 and Walter and Kushi 50, in quick time. So proving that it is possible to bat on this strip and raising the prospect of batting all day for a draw. Not quite what I thought yesterday!

Kushi is one of the young players Essex have and whilst it was a brief innings, it’s clear he’s a stylish and confident bat.

Kushi driving
And defending!

The lead at lunch is 36 with 5 wickets down; Walter (who only ever seems to play when Harmer is in the side?) slowly progressing to 79no and approaching his career best, but let’s not jinx it!

Which brings me to the other thought I had today is that the conditions appear to be ideal for swing, seam and plenty of wickets; other than the cold there’s little difference between todays weather and Friday’s. But I suppose it underlines the fact that science cannot explain why the ball swings in certain conditions and not others! Just as science can’t explain why bicycles don’t fall over when you ride one!

Northamptonshire need to get among the wickets and soon. They don’t want to chase too large a total and have no time to do so. Chasing 130/150 in the last session could be ‘interesting’

By mid afternoon Walter had gone for 93 just missing his best score (perhaps I jinxed him) and Essex are clearly just going to bat all day. The lead is closing in on 100 and whilst there’s plenty of overs and time, I fear Essex will look to get a lead of 150+ by 5pm and then agree a draw but there’s life (and hope yet for Northamptonshire).

Close up of Sanderson’s bowling grip
And again!

Of course, that strategy only works if you don’t lose wickets at intervals – regular or otherwise! Since at tea, another has fallen (Harmer 13) to leave Essex 88 ahead with three wickets – and 36 overs – remaining. Essex scored 52 in that two hour session. Hardly brighter cricket but needs must!

During that session the crowd has thinned out – either due to cold, the state of the match or better things to do. With such low numbers – I counted 18 spectators in the public area (and I suspect most of those were members) – the Championship is becoming even more unaffordable for counties and more dependent than ever on the one day game and ECB handouts. But then that’s probably the ECBs strategy all along!

Essex not only cleared 200 but 300 and stuck to their guns all day! Poor light after tea possibly meant Northamptonshire were restricted to spinners only but maiden after maiden saw Essex strive towards the safe harbour of a draw. The lead with 20 overs left was close to 120 which in the trash and bash game is nothing but here…

With 50 nominal minutes left, a maximum of 14 overs to chase 132, the teams shook hands. It would have been interesting to see if Essex could have used their full attack given the poor light but we’ll never know!

So well done Essex and hard luck Northamptonshire but it does underline the need for top class bowling attacks if you’re going to succeed and sustain in this Division

Late late show…continues

Pitches at this time of the season are either a bowlers delight or nightmare and we’ve seen both so far. But what’s a bit more unusual is the support from the late or lower order batting.

Leicestershire managed it on Thursday as you, dear reader, will recall and Northamptonshire yesterday. Not to be outdone Essex joined in this morning!

Snater and Steketee added 70 for the 9th wicket and Snater with Cook S added over 40 for the last wicket but still couldn’t quite manage to get Essex over the 200 mark for only the second time this season. Snater making his best first class score of 79no

Steketee swerves a fast one!
Better shot by Steketee

As so Essex follow on…not a phrase you see often! But what a difference a day makes?

Yesterday bitterly cold and cloudy and clearly the ball doing something as nicks and edges were the order of the day but today – nothing! Warmer weather and if you managed to sit in the sun, protection was the order of the day but you needed to find the lee out of the breeze! Little seam or swing or even reverse but it was an old ball to be plundered. How will Essex fare second time around?

Berg – at 40 – still creating havoc!
Procter – in full flow!

Well…by tea they’d reached 69/3, 128 behind with no one looking in any kind of touch/form. Northamptonshire bowled and fielded well, as you expect when you’re so far ahead.

Rob Keogh slightly frustrated!
Vasconcelos (#27) will catch this a millisecond later!
Matt Kelly

The game as I have written many times is played as much in the head as on the field and one wonders if the lack of form is due to off-field matters. They have been well reported but with the latest news that eight of the nine Essex Board members are leaving for a variety of reasons one wonders if the players are worried or affected. Who knows, but unless there’s some kind of extra-terrestrial intervention I can’t see Essex getting out of this match well

Walter in full defence mode!

A wicketless last session! Wow! Both Critchley and Walter press on slowly and add another 80 by the close of play (each close to 40) and Essex less than 50 in arrears. Both showing that with application and hard work it is possible to score on this track – Snater showed how this morning.

Now, dear reader, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! The new ball is due after an hour or so tomorrow morning and the forecast is for overcast conditions so everything points to bowler friendly conditions or will there be another late late show?

Eight degrees of separation

Cricket is intended to be played when the weather is warm and dry, if not hot and so the nooks and crannies which provide any shelter when the weather is cold, windy or rainy are few and far between on most grounds.

It really felt like minus 8 degrees!

And the CloudFM ground at Chelmsford is no exception today. The temperature is nominally 11C but with a wind chill factor it feels like 8C. There’s next to nowhere on this ground which provides shelter when the wind is from the North or North East.

Having started to physically shake with cold, repairing to the Pavilion to snuggle up to a radiator (on full blast) was the order of the day. The radiator location provides warmth but a poor view of the play, which is just as well as Essex are making heavy weather of this match against Northamptonshire.

From an overnight 233/7 Essex should have been looking to close this out fairly rapidly but with only one wicket before lunch, they seem to have lost the plot. Harmer can’t buy a wicket and the seamers seemed all at sea.

Meanwhile Luke Procter scored his highest score for Northamptonshire (113) and Gareth Berg (at #10) managed 75 and having put Essex to the sword then tried to do more damage but each fell to poor shots. But reaching 390 is far more than they should have got.

This gave Essex an hour of batting before tea.
Browne tried to force the pace and was out for 12 at 12/1 but Sir A and Westley appeared to steady the ship into harbour at tea of 45/2 but a lot of edges to the slips, and through the slips brought the inevitable wicket on the stroke of tea.

The odd ball is doing something and there’s a bit of variable bounce but otherwise it should be a good batting strip. One thing is certain today there’s no best to dry it out!

But what do I know? Essex get becalmed…almost stopped after tea and hardly any runs scored in the next hour but wickets fall at both ends. Edges to slip and the keeper aplenty, some falling short, a lot taken!

By the end of the day as the crowd all but drift away Essex end on 95/8 – way short of the follow on target and bonus point territory. Other than the bore draw against Kent, Essex have struggled to score more than 200 so prospects don’t look good. And Northamptonshire’s record of not having won at Chelmsford for 24 years looks like ending.

All of this observed from behind the glass in the Pavilion giving me separation from the 8 degrees outside!

And apologies for the lack of photos…it may have been 8C but it felt like minus 8 degrees and even gloves were not enough! Perhaps better tomorrow

Impressive Middlesex but Leicester delayed the ‘fat lady’

Before getting down to the matter of the day, let’s resolve the BIG question immediately and confirm that the Danish pastries at Lord’s are the best anywhere!

Division 2 of the County Championship is often more neglected than Division 1 (which is not that well publicised itself) and it’s not hard to see why. To a degree the teams can be seen as the home of the hard-working county trundlers/batters just going through the daily grind of county cricket and perhaps only sparkling when the one day or 20/20 smash and grab raids come along.

That was the feeling I got from the first session of Middlesex v Leicestershire at Lord’s – from the latter especially. That may be due to their lack of recent success and being anchored in the lower divisions for several seasons as they have been; whereas Middlesex have been on a downward trend for a few seasons but have started this season well.

Shah Afridi looks like a inspired signing for Middlesex and on his first appearance at Lords blew the top order away in no time at all – at one point being on a hat-trick. Leicestershire never really got going whilst the Middle’s bowlers exploited the overcast conditions to maximum effect – seaming and swinging as if there’s no tomorrow to leave Leicestershire 63/6 at lunch. Ok, we haven’t seen Middlesex bat yet to be able to form a proper judgment but when a pitch looks beige you don’t expect it to favour the quicks but this one does…at the moment!

Lots of strained expressions today – Luke Hollman

As the afternoon wore on and the sun started to shine (weakly at best), Leicestershire succumbed to 110/9 and ‘it’s all over bar the shouting’ but no! Parkinson (brother of the Lancashire one) and Hendrix (Beuran Eric, SA and with one test cap) decided it wasn’t time for fat lady songs!

Bamber joins in!

Clearly with less cloud cover the ball wasn’t doing anything like what it did before lunch and they managed to drag Leicestershire to 149ao on what was just after the timed tea interval.

Middlesex started very slowly as the clouds reappeared but once Stoneman had seen off the shine, he went off like an express train! Robson (seems to be another fidgeter, but only occasionally and then nowhere near the Smith/Burns/Lammonby class!) went for a slowish 16. By the end of the day, Middlesex were just 7 runs behind with Stoneman on 80 heading for a century.

Hendrix – close to being no-balled?
Sam Robson

The gulf between the sides at this stage appears wide but with a bit of cloud cover tomorrow, who knows when or if the fat lady will sing again?

Unanswered questions – Surrey v Somerset

Again the day dawned overcast with the prospect of floodlights from an early stage but the strong breeze blew the clouds away and we were soon bathed in occasional sunshine but the fresh breeze meaning finding protection from the wind is the order of the day.

Surrey progressed albeit a bit slowly to 293/8 at lunch; Curran went for 80 but not until he had damaged the Pavilion sight screen. Anticipation was high as to how it would be fixed mid-match but clearly it’s been done before so the ‘sight screen mending stick’ was all that was needed!

Curran – slash, and slash hard!

The new ball was the deciding factor as all three wickets fell since it was taken. Siddle – he of the Aussie beach bum haircut – has taken four to date.

Siddle with the Aussie beach bum hairstyle

The prospect of Overton vs Overton came to fruition! It’s quite clear all those ‘test matches’ in the back garden were just a precursor to ‘proper’ cricket!

I’ve just smashed my brother for 4 (Jamie) or I’ve just been smashed by my brother for 4 (Craig)!

Where is this game going? Eighteen wickets in seven sessions – all but two have been caught – indicating that 22 in the next five may be a bit too much…but who knows? Surrey need to take the next bonus point in the next 13 overs and Somerset the one wicket for theirs.

Brothers in action

Well, that didn’t last long. Surrey 308ao, Siddle mops up to take 6/51. Of the 20 wickets to have fallen, 18 have been caught. Just not sure about this pitch…not quite so green but green nonetheless. The third innings is key – Surrey need wickets fast(ish); Somerset fast(ish) runs but also enough time to bowl Surrey out (hoping that Leach can work his magic). I think chasing 250 could be a challenge but…we’ll see!

The afternoon session raised lots of unanswered questions – are Surrey one if not two bowlers short? Curran didn’t bowl yesterday or so far today…either he’s strained his long term injury, or the ECB has said he’s done enough in this match already? And Taylor doesn’t appear to be on the field – he had a long period off the field on Thursday so is there a fitness/injury issue? If only the PA worked you could know if they told you!

Who’s the more annoying bat – Burns with all his mannerisms or Lammonby? The latter stayed longer in the second innings but his ‘process’ between each ball – walk to square leg and back, touch right knee, left knee, left thigh pad, box and right pad and then face must be really annoying but it seems to work for him.

Lammonby – last check, now I’m ready

And…why does Ben Foakes need a drink every 20 minutes or so? Stopping play, he’s the only one! Not only today but each day so far!

But back to the match – and another unanswered question – when will Somerset declare? By tea they’ve reached 123/2 – a lead of 152. Abell approaching his 50 (and yet to be out in this match) and Banton 33 in an 80 run partnership. Surrey don’t look like taking a wicket with this attack – Topley has reverted to form after his excellent spell on Thursday, Clark and Overton straining but with no success. How much time do Somerset think they need?

It’s clear ‘I know nothing, nothing’ as Manuel claimed in Fawlty Towers! As the final session progresses the clouds come over more frequently and the lights go on…and so wickets fall. Within an hour Somerset lose five wickets for only a few runs as the temperature drops, the lights take over and Clark and Topley find ‘the spot’ from the Vauxhall End to try and scupper Somerset (again mainly to catches…an extraordinary percentage in this game!).

At the close, Somerset have a lead of 225 and one wicket to fall with a day to play, it’s clear the third innings has played its role. Surrey with their limited bowling attack have done very well but Somerset probably have a better one? A result looks likely but who will win? Another unanswered question but this will be answered!

PS – apologies dear reader, there’s no cricket blog for the rest of this match; am out tomorrow looking for buffalo in deepest darkest Essex!

Bikes in the Long Room!Whatever next?

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!

‘It’s behind you’ – above your head actually but…
Leach – underlining his ‘stick ability’
Abell – muscles straining while sweater needs a darn!
Seemingly headless Jack Brooks!

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!

Flowing locks…
Or the Aussie bleached blond look?

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.

Burns never looked completely comfortable

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.

Not a lot for Leach to get his teeth into!

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?

Sussing each other out…Surrey v Somerset

An odd first session of Surrey v Somerset – or currently top vs bottom sides in Division One. Somerset reach 62/1 at lunch having been 15/1 at the end of hour one. The pitch is very green from afar and each side spent the session working each other out. For the first 30 minutes it was relatively quiet but then got a bit spicy as the bowlers changed. It then got better for batting. Quite strange. In essence, each side trying to assess the other.

And another nice touch from Surrey – free scorecards and a sheet of records/stats. If only other counties made everyone feel as welcome as Surrey do…

Topley’s 6 over spell was the best I’ve ever seen from him (not that he plays the longer game that often) but he now needs to build on that as the day progresses.

Reece Topley watching the ball
And again…
Sam Curran straining every sinew

By tea Somerset reach 163/3 (or 101/2 in the session). Renshaw falls for 48, Banton comes and goes while Abell grafts to 59no. The wickets have all fallen to balls which were slightly faster and seemed to catch each bat by surprise. From close and from afar, there’s a noticeable colour change by tea time, but if you work hard you’ll score runs, if you bowl that little bit faster you’ll take wickets.

First Taylor…
And then Overton…not watching where the ball goes!

It will be interesting to see the Somerset attack on this pitch.

The evening session was strange – silence in the field from Surrey including Burns as captain, no chirping, body language suggested ‘we know we’re in for a long slog’, just let’s get to the new ball. Somerset scoring freely.

But then…Hildreth (the unluckiest guy not to have played for England) goes for a half century (and 20,000 career runs) with the last ball with the old ball and Davies almost as soon as the new ball is taken. Meanwhile Abell accumulates 121no, wickets continue to fall and at the end of the day Somerset reach 283/6. Both sides probably content with their days work…each could have done better and worse!

Hildreth
Abell
And finally some spin and flying hair from Jacks!

Each side is still assessing the other, trying to get a feel for where this match is going. Tomorrow will be interesting!