Ball One – With time taken out of the game by rain and with more of the wet stuff overhead, an overnight scoreboard of 123-7 gives the captains much to think about. Rory Hamilton-Brown will be looking for his late order to get through the first hour, then play a few shots to get Surrey up to around 200. Then it’s over to the bowlers to secure a first innings lead and set up a declaration innings and a fourth innings target of, say, 240 off 55 overs come Sunday. Darryl Mitchell will be looking to shoot out the tail, bat into Sunday and lead by 150 before declaring. But more important than all those ifs, buts and maybes, one captain has to risk defeat in pursuit of a win – because that’s what two innings cricket demands.
Ball Two – Gareth Batty once batted 7 for England, but has just two career centuries and 34 fifties, a poor output for a talented batsman. Two consecutive deliveries this morning captured exactly why. The first saw him up on his toes to punch a length ball through extra cover for as good a boundary as you will see all summer. The next was limply edged to slip where Solanki pouched the easiest of chances. The Yorkshireman will point to a first class average of 20 – respectable for sure – but, really, it should be at least five more.
Ball Three – Stuart Meaker is getting the ball through to Steve Davis at head height showing that this wicket has pace and bounce to go with lateral movement off the seam. But it’s April and at the end of a wet week, so what can one expect? Pitches should be fair, but there’s nothing wrong with them challenging the batsman. Overseas players appreciate the opportunities to hone their games through the varying conditions of an English season – perhaps English players and, especially, English coaches, should think the same.
Ball Four – Jon Lewis, back on after lunch, seams one miles in the corridor of uncertainty and Alexei Kervezee missed it by a distance. Not a wasted ball, as the next one on the same line does much less, but takes the edge and loops to second slip. It’s not always the ball in the book that takes the wicket.
Ball Five – There’s a lot made of positive body language and of creating an environment in which the batsmen knows that he is not among friends, but Surrey’s histrionics in team appealing and over-reaction to disappointment is really, well, unappealing. Once or twice is understandable – they may have been genuinely unlucky – but four times with the running towards the bowler and double tea-pots in 33 overs? I think not.
Ball Six – Alan Richardson is a salt of the earth type and a Wisden Cricketer of the Year to boot; so why was he backing away from the bowling of Jade Dernbach with James Cameron 41 not out at the other end? Though his wasn’t the wicket that closed the Worcestershire innings, he can’t have inspired much trust in his partner. Richo has a top score of 91 and is experienced enough to get in behind it in a tight match. Half an hour’s blocking could have realised a first innings lead for his team and he really should have targeted that.
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