Surrey v Somerset, The Oval, 2nd day May 17, 2012

Surrey grateful for Maynard fight

David Lloyd at The Oval

Surrey 286 for 6 (Davies 104) trail Somerset 512 for 9 dec. by 226 runs

It would have been a bit cheeky of bowlers to start complaining about flat pitches and short boundaries after having things pretty much their own way for a month or so. But, in any event, there was still enough joy for them here to make life more than bearable following yesterday's tough stint at the office.

Stuart Meaker and Jon Lewis hinted at the possibility of a keener contest between bat and ball by picking up two quick wickets apiece during the morning session as Somerset stumbled slightly from an all-powerful overnight 441 for 5 to 474 for 9.

And, several hours later and more relevant in terms of how this match might pan out, George Dockrell and Vernon Philander combined splendidly for a short period after tea to give Somerset a clear, though not decisive, advantage at the halfway stage.

So far, the visitors can feel proud of their efforts in south London. Despite missing Marcus Trescothick and Jos Buttler from the top order they have secured Somerset's highest total at The Oval.

Then, with an even more depleted attack - the absentees include Steve Kirby, Alfonso Thomas, Gemaal Hussain and Adam Dibble - they did sufficient damage to leave Surrey fretting about the follow-on mark, which is still 77 runs away with only six wickets in hand.

Surrey supporters can comfort themselves with the thought that their team almost pulled off a sensational victory at Worcester in the last round of matches after being made to have another go with the bat. But it is hardly a recommended recipe for success.

Although they will expect to achieve more startling successes as their careers develop, Somerset's 18-year-old twins - Jamie and Craig Overton - summed up the visitors' battling qualities, first with bat and then with ball.

The brothers are almost neck and neck, achievement-wise. Both played in the North Devon League at the age of 13, both represented England Under-19s last winter and both appeared in last weekend's CB40 match against Durham. But while Craig is notching up his third Championship game here, Jamie is on first-class debut - and it was he who did more to catch the eye today.

Walking out at No 11 to join No 10 Craig, Jamie punched gloves with his brother (something the Bedser twins, Alec and Eric, probably never felt compelled to do in all their years of playing together at The Oval). And then he started punching balls to the boundary.

Having bowled with much more discipline than the day before, Surrey must have expected to part these young pups in the blink of an eye. But while Craig was ruffled by Meaker's short ball attack, he survived sufficiently well for Jamie to race to 34 from 35 deliveries with the help of several cracking cuts and drives.

Even better was to come for a boy who is first and foremost a bowler. Asked to share the new ball with Philander, Jamie yorked Jacques Rudolph - a man with 43 Test appearances behind him - with his fifth delivery at this level.

The fairytale had to turn a little sour before too long, and so it did when Overton J reprieved Steve Davies on the mid-wicket boundary. Worried about tumbling over the rope, he knocked the ball up but pushed it behind the line, rather than in front, to deny spinner Dockrell a valuable success.

Davies had already made 74, mind you, and the wicketkeeper-opener went on to compile his first century of the season before departing. A fine knock it was too, regularly punctuated with fierce cuts and beautifully timed clips and drives through the leg-side.

While Davies and Zander de Bruyn were adding 122 for the third wicket, Surrey looked likely to match Somerset's total. But the script changed significantly in the space of 18 balls straight after tea.

Philander, switching ends following an expensive and largely unimpressive first spell, rediscovered his radar to locate De Bruyn's outside edge and pin Rory Hamilton-Brown lbw as the home captain moved across his stumps. Dockrell had already made one bounce sufficiently to hit Davies on the glove and present a catch to short leg - and the hosts were grateful indeed when Tom Maynard's mature unbeaten innings of 63 kept them out of further trouble.