From a young buck to old stagers
Durham 279 for 9 (Stoneman 77, Benkenstein 70, Batty 4-73) lead Surrey 237 (de Bruyn 57, Harinath 53, Davies 52, Buckley 5-86) by 42 runs
While the opening day belonged to youth with Ryan Buckley's maiden five-wicket haul on debut, the second was a day that celebrated the experience of 35-year-old Gareth Batty and 38-year-old Dale Benkenstein.
As Batty kept Durham in check with four wickets, Benkenstein, who had already played eight first-class matches before Buckley was even born, negotiated a turning pitch and rain delays to take Durham into a first innings lead, and himself past 9,000 first-class runs for the county.
It wasn't just rain that stalled proceedings at The Oval. Pigeons, never shy of tucking into the seeds here on the outfield, were ballsy enough to wander close to the pitch, some even having the temerity to dart across the pitch as the bowler ran in.
It irked Stuart Meaker, who needed three attempts to complete a single delivery in the 73rd over after pulling out initially because one of the feathered troublemakers started hopping toward the pitch, ominously. However, it was only Batty who could really look at himself and say he gave it his all; on three occasions he dispersed a cluster of pigeons by charging at them and waving his arms about like a man possessed by a, well, pigeon.
In the morning session his arm waving was more right-arm orthodox, and accounted for the wickets of Will Smith and Mark Stoneman, who started the morning with a host of boundaries as he brought up 50 off only 53 balls. Bowling in tandem with Gary Keedy, the pair - with a combined age of 73 - made use of a good, turning track although it was Batty who generating the most bite.
Were it not for Batty, Durham could have built up a far more convincing lead by stumps, which should tell you a lot about the calculated nature of their batting. The forecast for the day was for showers an hour or so after lunch and, after an initial stoppage, the rain settled in and hung around to tea.
A turgid period of play resulting in Ben Stokes dragging one on and Collingwood going five balls after tea, both to Zander de Bruyn but the introduction of Phil Mustard looked like it might get up the nose of Surrey, as he played his natural game to good effect; driving well off the seamers and saving a variety of sweeps against the spinners.
At the other end, Benkenstein picked up singles and patiently waded through overs to find the bad balls and when they arrived he put them away. But when Mustard went, the tail soon followed as Batty tricked Callum Thorp into playing inside the line of his arm-ball, catching the edge and allowing Jason Roy to do the rest at slip (albeit at the second attempt). Tim Linley then removed Mark Wood and Chris Rushworth in the first over with the new ball, in successive deliveries, bringing young Buckley to the crease.
He was shielded by his elder, who took it upon himself to try and thrash a few runs as the day wound down. Batty placed eight men evenly spaced out to cover the entire boundary; bringing them in from the fifth ball of the over to trap Buckley on strike for the change of overs. When they did, he stood up to Linley and defended with confidence off the back foot before seeing out the last over of the day.
It was a day that tested the resolve of the few watching, but one that did enough to move this game along at a decent pace. Both sides should be credited for that.