de Bruyn, Wilson keep Surrey afloat
Surrey 242 for 9 (de Bruyn 71, Wilson 68) v Nottinghamshire
Of all the most difficult creatures to deal with in county cricket, of late none has been harder to handle than the left-armer with an awkward disposition. Harry Gurney is perhaps less unorthodox than some of the freak left-arm seamers out there, but he still managed to grab a few early wickets against Surrey. By reducing Surrey to 52 for 4, Gurney had Notts firing and perhaps even day dreaming of winning the Championship.
At lunch, they would have headed off, their hearts dancing, only to be told that Warwickshire had mauled Worcestershire, and their chances of winning the title were little more than dreams. After lunch only the swipe of Jason Roy, who fell trying to hit the ball to Vauxhall station, went Nottinghamshire's way. At that stage it seemed to be more about Surrey who were spiraling uncontrollably into the abyss of Division Two: a place where a team with Surrey's talent and money shouldn't be heading.
It's not been a good year for Surrey. They've lost a young player, desecrated some people's spirit of cricket, performed abysmally in Twenty20, faded badly in the 40 over competition and now are teetering on the edge of a shock drop down to Division Two.
They were saved by perhaps the least likely of their batsman, the Ireland back-up wicketkeeper Gary Wilson. Few of the Surrey faithful would have assumed that Wilson could combine with Zander de Bruyn to put on a 123 partnership. The stand was partly built on tedium and a pitch that seemed far from fun to bat or bowl on. Once they got beyond their nervous start, de Bruyn and Wilson looked solid and simply put away the odd bad ball. Wilson unleashed some vicious square cuts, that seemed to mock his first-class average of only 26.
This is to be Gary Wilson's last game of the year for Surrey. The rest of the Ireland team left for Sri Lanka today, and such is the arrangement between Surrey and Ireland, that after this match Wilson heads off to join them. It is only his second Championship match of the year, but even so, no one wants to lose a player in form.
De Bruyn was perhaps not as flee flowing as he can be, but between them they'd wrestled back the game from Notts, before de Bruyn, on 71, played a heavy handed sweep and was given out to lbw to give Graeme White his second wicket. Wilson followed soon after for 68 and Nottinghamshire closed in on the Surrey tail. Murali Kartik was dismissed, but not mankadded, as Surrey ended the day on 242 for 9.
Nottinghamshire's attack was dour all day. Polite, not brutal. No bowler gave away more than three runs an over, and considering the wicket gave them little, they held in there quite well. Gurney was the pick, especially with the new ball, ending with 3 for 47. Luke Fletcher and Ben Phillips both produced the odd ball that kept low, and Phillips looked very dangerous with the second new ball to walk off with 3 for 44. This was not the pitch you wanted if you had ambitions to bowl at a team out for 60 and storm your way to the Championship.
At the end of the day, Surrey missed a trick by not declaring, or hitting out, to give themselves a chance of a quick wicket or two. Instead their tailedners trudged in this sludge like surface towards a batting point that may ultimately be out of reach. As the game currently stands, both teams have a decent chance. As the season stands, one side is probably closer to not winning the Championship, one side is probably closer to not being relegated.