Just One of Those Days

County Championship Division One, Surrey v Somerset, Guildford, Day 2 – Somerset 344 All Out (Bartlett 137) lead Surrey 188-5 (Foakes 57, C Overton 2-26, J Overton 2-38) by 156 runs 

When you look at the fixtures before the season does your mind paint a picture of what a particular game will be like? Mine does. And when it fell upon June 3rdto 6that Guildford I anticipated a tough examination for Somerset under cloudless skies with all the trimmings of festival cricket. A suburban equivalent of the Baths and Westons of my childhood.

Wrong! The second day’s championship cricket in June was disrupted severely by the weather, not just in Surrey but across the country. Somerset were actually more fortunate than most in so far as the weather which had forced the players to leave the field shortly after lunch relented sufficiently to allow a final hour of play late in the day making 55 overs possible in all.

The morning session uncannily mirrored its predecessor. Surrey were reduced to 38-3 (Somerset’s nadir on Monday was 35-3) before a fourth wicket stand staged a recovery to leave the lunch score 101-3 (100-3).

Somerset in all honesty didn’t bowl particularly well for long enough phases to have deserved anything more. Surrey must be increasingly concerned about the lack of runs from Stoneman and Burns who were the rocks of last season. 

The former decided to try to hit his way into form and succeeded for a short while before he decided Jack Brooks, lovely fellow that he is, deserved a present on his birthday and obligingly played no shot at a straight one. Burns scratched around for 39 balls for 2 before he was pouched at second slip by Tres off Craig Overton, a fine catch which was traveling rapidly and low into the cordon.

When Craig’s twin entered the attack he deceived Dean Elgar with his first ball to trap the South African lbw for 1. Jamie had clearly been told to bowl quickly and that he would be given short bursts. He unsettled the Surrey batsman and although he was a little erratic early on (one delivery going straight into the hands of the aforementioned second slip who, as you would expect pouched it with aplomb!) none of the Surrey batsman were ever happy facing him.

That Surrey lunched with only three down owed a lot to Ben Foakes. The wicketkeeper batsman showed again that he is a class above at this level. He took full advantage of Woodbridge Road’s short boundaries and was playing beautifully after lunch when Jamie Overton induced an edge to Steven Davies. Foakes frustration at getting out for 57 having done all the hard work was exacerbated by the fact that the rain arrived before he had time to get out of his batting pads.

Thereafter the day petered out as they often do when rain leaves a final hour in damp conditions. That mini-session was one of those where the players didn’t want to be out there, the remaining spectators were questioning their sanity and the corporate guests had probably, to be honest, were as damp on the inside as the outside.

Craig Overton picked up the wicket of the obdurate Scott Borthwick (36 off 118 balls) when Surrey had reached 154 but further inroads could not be made in the remaining 10 overs as Ryan Patel, 40* and Will Jacks 13* took Surrey to the close.

With 23 overs until the new ball and a much better weather forecast for the morrow Somerset will need to make a couple of early breakthroughs and wrap up the Surrey innings with the new ball if they are to secure a comfortable first innings advantage. If they don’t their second innings could prove to be the toughest examination of their championship credentials yet.

Frustrating as the day was though, spare a thought for the BBC commentators. If being perched on top of the pavilion on a day like today was not hard enough they battled with gremlins which left them either talking to an audience that couldn’t hear or frantically unplugging, re-plugging and replacing equipment for much of the morning session.

It was, for all concerned just one of those days.