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Alan Gardner at The Oval
May 23, 2012
Warwickshire 106 for 1 (Chopra 59*) trail Surrey 223 (Maynard 39, Wright 3-42) by 117 runs
Warwickshire went into this match top of Division One and with a game in hand over their two nearest rivals, Nottinghamshire and Somerset, so they probably didn't need any favours. Surrey, however, turned out to be most accommodating hosts on a lazy, hazy day.
As spectators sunned themselves in the stands, Surrey were taught a lesson in application and accumulation, after being dismissed for a below-par 223. At the close, Warwickshire had raised the hundred, with just one wicket down, off of 35 overs; at the same stage in their innings, Rory Hamilton-Brown's side were 150 for 6, having effectively frittered away any advantage gained by winning the toss.
And it looked to be some advantage too, judging by the rate of scoring early in the day. But while no one managed to go on to 40 in the Surrey innings, Warwickshire opener Varun Chopra eked out a half-century at a pace more attuned to the sweltering (at least by recent standards) heat. Ominously for Surrey, the two previous occasions on which Chopra has reached fifty this season, he has converted that into a three-figure score.
The last time these two sides met in 2007, Warwickshire were on their way down to Division Two and Mark Ramprakash was closing in on 2,000 first-class runs for the second season running. How things change. Ramprakash was again left out of the side here, having injured himself playing second-XI cricket on Tuesday, with Jason Roy opening and Jacques Rudolph operating in the middle order.
Having decided to bat under blazing sunshine, Surrey may have hoped to be still going come Thursday morning but a combination of reckless shot selection, feckless running and the odd good ball saw them hustled out by tea.
With the cheers of enthusiastic schoolchildren, given free entry, echoing around the ground, Surrey cracked along as if it were the height of summer and the preceding weeks of swing and seam were a distant memory. They brought up the fifty in the 11th over and the hundred in the 21st but they ultimately ran out of batsmen with equal haste.
Roy and Zander de Bruyn had both departed by the time that Steven Davies, who played solidly for 34, became the first of two avoidable run-out victims. He attempted an injudicious single to square leg only to be sent back by Rudolph, Tim Ambrose proving the call correct by scampering to his right and throwing down the stumps with Davies short of regaining his ground.
Some of Surrey's batsmen are not old enough to remember Myspace, let alone the leave outside off stump but Rudolph, who was caught behind driving, does not have that excuse. His dismissal, after a 50-run stand with Hamilton-Brown, precipitated a collapse from 134 for 3 at lunch to 164 for 7, as Warwickshire's bowlers asked a few questions and Surrey's batsmen proved there wasn't a mastermind among them. Hamilton-Brown's run-out, calling for a single to mid-on only for Tom Maynard to remain rubbernecking at the non-striker's end, summed up their day.
In fact, Surrey may not have made 200 if the umpires had sided with Jeetan Patel when he claimed a catch at cover-point off Jon Lewis, who went on add another 31 runs to his score. But by then, Warwickshire had already had their fair share of gifts.
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