Read battles for faltering Notts
Nottinghamshire 227 (Read 85*, Linley 5-62) trail Surrey 269 (Gurney 4-47) by 42 runs
Chris Read's an eager well-meaning pixie from a fairytale. He always looks like he cares. In an office, he'd be the guy that said, "That's funny, but we've got a lot of work to do". If he dated your sister, you'd think he was a nice guy, but until he came over to re-grout your bathroom, you'd never truly value him. He probably does his own taxes, and tips his paperboy. He's that guy.
At The Oval on day one, Read was solid with the gloves, kept the spirits of his bowlers up, made sure runs never flowed and kept Surrey to a score that was easily reachable. On day two, he did everything he could with the bat to keep his side in the match. It wasn't really about runs, the Notts batsmen all scored at a quicker rate than Surrey had, it's just that none of them stayed in.
Read did. He was a one man Gary Wilson and Zander de Bruyn partnership.
This pitch, still sludge-like in nature and with occasional low bounce, is not hard to bat on when the afternoon sun hits it with the old ball being used. Yet only Read, and briefly youngster Sam Wood, looked like they wanted to handle it.
Throughout this match Read has played like a captain who refuses to believe they can't win the Championship. A belief he has had that doesn't seem as evident on some of the other Notts player's faces. It's probably not surprising that Sam Wood, playing in his first full County game, was the other player. Wood was brought as another bowling option on the spin friendly Oval wicket but instead continued his good form that smashed a hundred for the England Under 19 side. At only 19, and with skills with bat and ball, Wood is a very impressive prospect.
On the other side, Surrey have looked a bit more desperate, as you would be if you're that close to County Cricket's Tatooine, division two. Stuart Meaker was fast, really fast. His ball to Adam Voges would have electrified a crowd at an international match. Voges was beaten by pace, swing and skill. Meaker was putting on a clinic for a while, swinging the ball both ways at pace, but as the new ball faded so did he. At the other end Tim Linley is hardly going to produce the same excitement, but he ended with 5 for 62 through patience, skill and subtle variation. They were the honest, humble and hardworking wickets of a consistent county seamer. They'll be forgotten by anyone who saw Meaker's wicket of Voges.
Kartik was the pick of the bowlers. Using a new technique, for him, of attacking primarily at the striker's end, he flighted the ball beautifully, mixed up his pace like a master, spun the ball hard and even occasionally got some brutal bounce. It seemed for most of the afternoon the only way to score off him was accidentally. None of his wickets came from unplayable deliveries; they came from the cloud of doom he floated above the batsman's eyes. Kartik's miserly bowling allowed Surrey to just keep chipping away at the largely lifeless Notts line up who ended up on 227, 42 behind Surrey.
Even though they faltered with the bat, it was perhaps with the ball in the morning that Notts looked their most anodyne. They allowed the newly capped Meaker and tailender Linley to score another batting point and add 38 runs - the third biggest partnership of the match. It was only ended when a Harry Gurney delivery kept a bit low. Read was trying to fire up his troops, but it was clear all day they weren't quite right.
After trudging off with his fighting 85 not out, Read was given a respectful clap by the Oval faithful. Read rarely entertained, except in the last over, but it was definitely a strong show of character. If you walked into the Oval today, not knowing the back-story of these two teams, it is Surrey you'd think were the team that got close to the title, and Notts the team that would be getting relegated if not for the strong mindedness and guts of their captain.
Surrey are leading this match, Chris Read is leading Nottinghamshire.