Surrey v Worcestershire, The Oval, 4th day April 22, 2012

Klinger calms treacherous Oval track

David Lloyd at The Oval

Surrey 140 (Richardson 6-47) and 224 (Hamilton-Brown 76, Richardson 4-81) drew with Worcestershire 119 (Meaker 6-39) and 94 for 1 (Klinger 69*)

So the script went something like this: a pitch that produced several examples of uneven bounce on the third day - when 19 wickets fell and the ball seamed about so much that 12 players were caught by keeper or slips - would deteriorate further, leaving Surrey to win with ease.

There were no thoughts of a rewrite, either, once Alan Richardson had scuttled a few deliveries through at grubber height in his first couple of overs on the fourth morning to finish with match figures of 10 for 128.

But all good plots have a twist - and what a turn-up we could have had here but for rain washing out the final session when Worcestershire needed a further 152 runs from 39 overs. They had progressed to 94 for 1 with something approaching ease, losing only their captain Daryl Mitchell a moment or two before bad weather stopped play for the umpteenth and final time in this contest.

So what went right, so to speak, from a batting point of view? Well, for a start, Michael Klinger - a 31-year-old Australian, who has joined Worcestershire on a short-term basis while countryman Phil Hughes tours West Indies - played wonderfully well.

He struck ten fours, many of them threaded through the covers, and drove a sumptuous six, against spinner Gareth Batty, while making an undefeated 69 from 95 deliveries. But on top of that the pitch, spiteful at various times, looked almost docile while the sun shone for most of the afternoon.

"It confused me as well," said Chris Adams, Surrey's team director, when asked to explain what had happened to a dry, hard surface. "It looked a belter this afternoon. We certainly expected more with the new ball, in terms of movement, but having said that I thought their batsman played really, really well. That is the first time I have seen Klinger and he looks a very well organised player who takes the game to the opposition."

Adams, of course, was widely quoted last week when he lambasted the Lord's pitch after Surrey lost to Middlesex by three runs as the worst he had seen at HQ. In this match, the stand of 94 between Klinger and Mitchell was one of only two half-century partnerships and there was almost a positive outcome, despite six of the 12 scheduled sessions being lost to rain.

Adams had no intention of back-tracking on his comments of seven days ago, asking people to bear in mind that he was comparing the Lord's pitch with the "superb" surfaces he has encountered there on other occasions.

As for cricket generally this showery April, Adams said: "My sympathies go out to batsmen around the country at the moment because clearly conditions are proving very difficult. For three days here it was very difficult for all batsmen.

"What it is producing is an entertaining spectacle because people are seeing action and entertainment on a consistent basis. What I don't think it is producing is the quality of cricket we want to see from a batsman's point of view. "

It is anyone's guess how this match would have panned out given another two or three hours of play. But Worcestershire would certainly have fancied their chances of pulling off a terrific victory against a powerful attack after being set what appeared an out-of-the-question target of 246 from 70 overs.

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  • Bryn on April 25, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    of course klinger is the only competent batsman on show. aussie, coincedence? nah. hughes is not on tour with australia what is with that statement?

  • Dummy4 on April 23, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    4 day games starting before the end of April are a joke. Many areas of the UK simply do not have the climate beforehand to make the pitched the ECB now require at that time of year. Why is this the case? Becasue we have had to make room for seventy three thousand meaningless T20 slogathons in the middle of the summer. Yawn

  • Andrew on April 23, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    Well done Mick. Hughes touring the WIndies?

  • Michael on April 22, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    .. . The Lords groundsman set it out last week- the pitches cannot be ready to play on when he has little opportunity to do so in the days before a game. I wonder how many other groundsmen fell April is not the right time for 4 day games. Of course in June and July to stage is taken up by 20/20- that path to gold. Okay so it is popular with treasurers and children. But to post as THE main event of the summer for counties and consign the long game to the ends of the season rather than high summer is suicidal in the long run and really needs to be changed. I would propose playing 20/20 instead in April and early may, when a 40 over game might more easily be completed than 96 overs of championship. It would introduce youngsters to the game earlier in the summer. and be easier to produce surfaces for than 4 day games.

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