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May 5, 2011
Surrey 294 and 166 for 2 v Leicestershire 183
Surrey are on course for their first Championship victory of the season after a dominant display against Leicestershire led by their pace attack and followed up by the exciting Jason Roy. The visitors could only manage 183 as they were greeted by a rare overcast day, but when Surrey batted again in the sunshine they had few issues extending the lead to 277.
While Chris Tremlett continued to cause problems, and Mark Ramprakash registered an effortless half-century to consolidate the home side's position, this was a good day for Surrey's youth. Firstly Stuart Meaker took 4 for 43 with some seriously quick bowling, then Roy, 20, gave a glimpse as to why the Surrey cricket manager, Chris Adams, calls him a "mini KP".
There was certainly a confidence and swagger about him at the crease despite a first-innings failure. Roy isn't an opener by trade, but was selected by Rory Hamilton-Brown to try and solve the top-order dilemma. He won't be seeing off the new ball in traditional fashion and when offered anything loose (or sometimes not that loose) he threw his hands into the shots. It's a style that comes with risk but also brings reward.
He took four boundaries off an over from Nadeem Malik with a series of stand-and-deliver drives, the second of which brought up his half-century from 40 balls. There was a certain irony that Roy's innings ended playing defensively when he was given caught behind equal with his highest first-class score.
With Roy taking his chance and Ramprakash back in the line-up if will be a tight squeeze fitting in Pietersen, not so much against Cambridge UCCE next week but more so for the Championship match against Essex. Hamilton-Brown is currently the least productive of the batsmen and fell in this innings trying to attack Henderson. A captain's job is always tougher when runs aren't coming, but winning this match will help ease concerns.
Play was delayed until 12.25 due to morning rain - the first for about a month in London - and the heavy atmosphere helped juice up an already green pitch. It was always going to be tricky for Leicestershire's batsmen against a strong seam attack. That will have made it even more disappointing that James Taylor was bowled through the gate by Gareth Batty's second ball in the last over before lunch
Credit must go to Hamilton-Brown for a smart piece of captaincy. It would have been very easy to stick with his quicks, but there'd been turn for Claude Henderson yesterday and a nice piece of flight from Batty, who had just been driven through cover, drew Taylor into a mistake. It wasn't the best moment for Taylor with James Whitaker, the England selectors, watching from the stands.
Leicestershire's innings was seriously undermined after the interval as three wickets fell for two runs. The rapid Meaker had Jacques du Toit and Will Jefferson caught behind; the first with an excellent delivery which nipped away and the second thanks to a flat-footed drive which undid some determined work from Jefferson. Meaker, meanwhile, continued his strong start to the season which was interrupted last week by a hamstring tweak.
Paul Dixey, the debutant wicketkeeper, then failed to get on top of Tremlett's extra bounce as he fended a catch to gully. As he had been on the first evening Tremlett was excellent, hitting a taxing length and making the most of the good bounce in the surface. Again he was handled sympathetically by his captain and not overworked.
The follow-on was looming until Resistance came from Henderson and Wayne White who counterattacked in a positive seventh-wicket stand as the sun finally managing to burn through the clouds. Dernbach was the most expensive of Surrey's attack, striving a little too hard on a surface that required control, but he provided the breakthrough with a trademark slower ball that confounded Henderson and took off stump before adding White as his second scalp.
Meaker deservedly wrapped up the tail and showed the value of having someone express to attack the lower order. There aren't many really quick bowlers in county cricket and if Meaker continues to make strides greater honours may await.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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