Surrey v Warwickshire, Guildford, 4th day June 8, 2013

Burns earns draw to lighten Surrey gloom

David Lloyd at Guildford

Surrey 274 (Solanki 69, Harinath 65, Ponting 52, Rankin 4-43, Barker 4-45) and 234 for 4 (Burns 85) drew with Warwickshire 631 for 9 dec (Chopra 192, Barker 125, Javid 85, Ambrose 84, Westwood 71)

Surrey awoke from the inexplicably ghastly nightmare of losing seven first-innings wickets for 12 runs in 11 overs to secure the draw that at least buys them a bit of breathing space. But with only Derbyshire below them and the halfway stage of the Championship programme almost reached, it is hard to predict anything other than a fight against relegation.

Signings continue to be made. Australia's Glenn Maxwell will arrive for at least part of the T20 programme while Surrey expect to confirm the capture of South Africa's JP Duminy for the last two months of the four-day campaign early next week.

What they need above all else, though, is a Championship victory after seven matches without success. That spirit-lifting outcome was an impossibility here once Warwickshire ploughed on beyond 600. And but for a more disciplined second-innings effort, built around Rory Burns' three-hour occupation, a desperately embarrassing defeat might have ensued.

As it was, the pitch proved simply too bland for Warwickshire to pressurise Surrey into another implosion. The defending champions were further hampered by the absence of fast bowler Chris Wright, who sat out the final day with a flu-like illness, and they could also point to the potentially crucial loss of 37 overs to rain on the third morning.

But unlike Surrey, who were left thanking the heavens for small mercies, the visitors can rightly claim to have taken a good step forward at Woodbridge Road. Their injury list is starting to shorten, with opener Ian Westwood and allrounder Keith Barker not only returning to action here but also making excellent contributions.

Even better, Warwickshire have produced just the batting response coach Dougie Brown wanted after they were routed for 128 and 140, by Yorkshire, on their last outing. Retaining the title looks a tall order right now (they have only one victory from seven matches, compared to four at the same stage last season) but it is not an impossible task by any means.

The Bears were growling all right this morning, having stunned Surrey through the previous evening's Boyd Rankin-inspired burst. And it took them less than half an hour to claim the final three wickets, which left the hosts to follow-on an almighty 357 behind.

Chris Tremlett, defending tentatively on the crease, edged Rankin before Ricky Ponting - deciding he might as well go on the offensive - and Jade Dernbach perished to Barker's left-arm quicks.

On a pitch which had yielded 863 runs for the first 11 wickets, Surrey's last seven had gone down for an undistinguished dozen. No wonder their followers were less than happy and no doubt wishing that next month's forum could be brought forward a few weeks.

At least there was a bit of cheer for the faithful second time around. With nothing more than slow turn to encourage spinners Jeetan Patel and Ateeq Javid, Warwickshire could only prod and probe for weaknesses during lengthy spells.

It was Rikki Clarke, though, who denied opener Burns what would have been a worthy century, finding the outside edge with a real 'effort' ball just before tea. And when Patel claimed a second victim during the early stages of the final session, via Zander de Bruyn's bat-pad catch to silly point, the visitors rightly extended their victory bid well into the final hour.

There was no shifting Ponting a second time, however, and he at least is earning his corn.

As for that elusive first win, Surrey's director of cricket, Chris Adams, insisted: "We've competed in every game without managing to pull it together with both bat and ball for an entire four days. But I don't think we are far away. I feel we are really close to bringing it together and putting in that performance."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ross on June 9, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    Maximum6 " Axe Woodbridge road " Thats a goodun !!! Blame the ground not the pathetic players. Some Surrey Players are becoming like footballers. Too much money ans too little competition. Older big money players are going to get picked otherwise Chris Adams looks even more of a fool !! The day Surrey signed Pieterson told you all you need to know about where this once great club was going ..........................Down Hill Fast !!

  • Mark on June 9, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    @Maximum6 I recall, pre-season, when cricket followers started to question the Surrey recruitment policy and likely Championship side, the heated reply was "what geriatrics/OAPS"? Yes we are seeing de Solanki, Bruyn, Keedy, Lewis and Batty (a mere stripling at 35) turning out regularly. I don't think that there has been a game with fewer than 3 over-35s and there have been as many as 5 in the starting XI.

    Obviously, when Ansari comes back, Gary Keedy is unlikely to play more (isn't he?) as the captain is a spinner and the strength - at least on paper - is the seam attack I would wonder how often Surrey will play Ansari and go in with two spinners at the expense of a seamer.

    If Surrey are relegated, I would suspect that Lewis, Solanki, de Bruyn and Keedy will all retire or be released. Tim Linley's chances look limited if Tremlett stays fit (Dernbach and Meaker will play ahead of him) and he may move on to get more regular cricket, so next season's side may look very different.

  • Mark on June 8, 2013, 21:55 GMT

    Poor Ricky Ponting must be wondering what he has let himself in for, Undoubtedly he signed after being asked to help Surrey on a title charge. Somehow I don't think that the job description included being expected to save his new team after losing 7 for 11, turning a near certain draw into a desperate struggle for survival.

    It really does look as if the only thing that can save Surrey from a return to Division 2 is the possibility that their two nearest rivals are even more incompetent than they are.

    Kudos to Warwickshire for getting so close to a quite incredible win when it looked hopeless with four sessions to go but, then again, this season the title winner will expect to win at least four matches out of six against the bottom three and any draw aganst them will feel like an opportunity missed to get some easy points.

  • ian on June 8, 2013, 21:01 GMT

    I'm looking forward to Ansari becoming a regular for the rest of the season. When it comes to cricketing nous he's way out ahead in this Surrey set-up, esp. for someone of his years. As a smart lad in every respect, I would expect him to benefit from Ricky Ponting's advice & pointers, as indeed some of the other Surrey players need to do. Mind you, when it comes to old dogs (no gratuitous insult intended), can many of them learn new tricks? I know that players always try their best, but the best seems of some to be quite short of the mark (or some years ago), judging by recent performances. I wonder what the side will look like this time next year. I would imagine that at least three of the side that played at Guildford will not be present, Ponting excluded. Last point. Looks like Chris Jordan likes the sea air! Just why is it that Surrey failed to get him to progress when Sussex has turned him into a match-winner, practically from day 1? Questions to be answered, eh?

  • Michael on June 8, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    Woodbridge Road seldom does Surrey any favours as a home venue. Should be axed. Obviously very welcome to crawl out with a draw, but what lies ahead? Why does de Bruyn continue to occupy a space so unproductively?

  • Cyril on June 8, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    "We've competed in every game" says Adams. So far this season Surrey have only spent ten minutes when we could have said, "we should win this", that was the change of innings at Lord's, after Smith had enforced the follow-on.

    We are miles from a victory! Adams' refusal to recognise this is one of the major reasons for the continual failure.

    While the opposition rack up batting record after record and personal best after best. Surrey are ticking along doing nothing to improve the situation.

    I can't help but believe the reason for this is the lack of competition for batting spots. There is no depth in the squad. Why? Because Adams and his seniors have signed old men on big money!

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