Surrey fail to pull off historic win
Worcestershire 285 (Ali 61) and 150 for 8 (Edwards 4-44) drew with Surrey 113 and 431 for 7 dec (Maynard 143, Hamilton-Brown 115, Pietersen 69)
There were plenty of reasons for Worcestershire supporters to be optimistic as they made their way to New Road for the final day of their match against Surrey: their team was a couple of wickets away from dominating the game; people could sport sun-hats without being asked which fancy dress party they were attending later; and no rain was forecast.
Well, the weather continued to behave itself but nearly everything else went pear-shaped for Daryl Mitchell's men on this balmy Saturday. Surrey completely outplayed them, adding 215 more runs in 42 overs and then reducing the home side to 135 for 8 before Richard Jones and the admirable Matt Pardoe survived the final 45 balls to secure a draw. Pardoe, who also plays for Kidderminster Victoria in the Birmingham League, ended the match on 38 not out by displaying an exemplary defensive technique and a passion for crease occupation that some of his colleagues would do well to copy.
For their part, Rory Hamilton-Brown's players could be justifiably delighted with the way they had responded to conceding a 172-run first innings lead and then being reduced to 125 for 4, still 47 in arrears, on Friday evening. Had they won, it would have been only the second occasion since 1868 that they had done so after following on. And no one had greater reason to be thoroughly chuffed than Championship debutant George Edwards, whose two early wickets ended Worcestershire's interest in scoring 260 runs in 52 overs to win the game. He then returned to get rid of Ben Scott and Aneesh Kapil as a few Worcestershire batsmen lost either the will or the technique to resist. Scott seemed to abandon both.
Edwards, a strong-looking seamer who plays for Spencer CC in the Surrey Championship, was only in the side because Stuart Meaker and Jade Dernbach are on England Lions duty. All the same, the 19-year-old's extra bounce and pace forced Michael Klinger to fend the ball to sub fielder Chris Jordan in the gully, and he then trapped Vikram Solanki lbw for nought with a superb yorker which speared the No. 3 painfully on the toes. When Mitchell was lbw on the front foot to Jon Lewis five deliveries later Worcestershire had lost three wickets in eleven balls and talk of a home victory was confined to supporters who had spent too long in the sun.
Surrey dominated the first half of the day too, especially the morning session, in which they scored 166 runs in 32 overs. After a 20-minute period in which Hamilton-Brown and Maynard were content to push singles, a tuning-up exercise they completed with ominous ease, the Surrey pair treated Mitchell's attack with disdain, pummelling a succession of boundaries and adding 90 runs in the first hour.
Maynard was initially the more destructive, straight driving Jones for two thunderous boundaries and becoming the first Surrey batsman to reach a Championship century this season when he hit Kapil for six over long-on. Hamilton-Brown emulated his partner's aggressive approach in the second hour of the morning and reached three figures - and his first ever hundred in the second innings of a first-class match - when he ran Kapil down to third man for four. Worcestershire supporters who had arrived with high hopes of seeing their side record their first Championship victory of the season were instead offered a glimpse of what life may be like if Alan Richardson's shoulder injury proves to be serious. It was not a congenial sight for them.
One wicket did fall in the session but Hamilton-Brown's departure for 115 amounted to little more than acceptable collateral damage for Surrey. The captain's 225-run partnership with Maynard had broken the Surrey record for the fifth wicket against Worcestershire and it also looked to have broken the home players' spirit as fielding errors crept in. At lunch Surrey were 382 for 5 and the locals' cheery talk of early finishes had been replaced by gloomy discussions of declaration times and possible collapses. It had been savage stuff.
Surrey added 49 runs in even time after lunch before Hamilton-Brown called off the dogs. Maynard reached his highest first-class score in the first over after the interval but was caught at point by Solanki off Lucas for 143 immediately afterwards. Zander de Bruyn also perished in the quest for quick runs, though it scarcely mattered. Jones finished with match figures of 8 for 171 and he probably has fond recollections of Friday. Worcestershire's supporters will empathise.