Surrey v Nottinghamshire, The Oval, 1st day July 8, 2013

Surrey's poker face deserts them

Vithushan Ehantharajah at The Oval

Nottinghamshire 50 for 0 trail Surrey 198 (Davies 65*, Burns 57, Shahzad 3-43) by 148 runs

A day that started with Surrey in possession of all the right cards turned out to be a bluff, as Nottinghamshire dismissed the hosts for 198 on a track that will deteriorate as the game progresses. Certainly, that's the impression garnered from Surrey's decision to select three spinners in Gareth Batty, Gary Keedy and Zafar Ansari.

On the same pitch that was used in last Friday's Twenty20 derby against Middlesex, their decision to bat first after winning the toss in conditions that looked optimum for batting was no surprise. Even the loss of the first two wickets could be passed off as a blip, such was the assurance with which Rory Burns and Ricky Ponting batted initially.

But Nottinghamshire's attack are continually showing their capacity to maintain focus during long passages of play and that was in evidence again, as wickets came as a result of carefully knitted together periods of pressure.

There was a healthy crowd on hand to applaud Ponting out for his penultimate first-class innings and we were greeted to a few staples - the entrance routine (heel kicks, two shadow drives, a flick of each wrist followed by heel kicks) and a trio of swivel-pulls - as he settled into a groove with Burns.

It is hard not to think what lies further ahead for Burns, Surrey's leading scorer in four-day cricket, with a game so tight he could bat in a telephone box. There was enough pace in the pitch to let his technique do the talking, as he drove down the ground with exceptional timing; his cover drive off Ajmal Shahzad eliciting a purr that floated around the ground like a Mexican wave born out of satisfaction rather than tedium.

But when the boy wonder was strangled down the leg side on the stroke of lunch, Harry Gurney ending the only fifty partnership of the Surrey innings, Nottinghamshire went into lunch with their tails up.

Tighter lines in the afternoon session saw a further three wickets fall for 80 runs, as Chris Read paired spin with pace to good effect. It was only in the 52nd over that he asked anything of Graeme White, the slow left-armer in his first game back after a month-long loan spell at Northants, by which time Samit Patel had bowled 20 overs. It was Patel who removed Ponting, who gave a simple catch to Riki Wessels trying to turn the ball around the corner.

Surrey's capitulation could have been worse were it not for Steven Davies, who worked with Zander de Bruyn and then Ansari to try and get the score past 200. But when both departed in rather cheap fashion - de Bruyn lazily swiping at Shahzad and Ansari nailing the ball at bat-pad to give White his first wicket - the run scoring fell solely on the keeper's shoulders. He managed 25 more, trying to incorporate some malice into his elegance, as the last four batsmen failed to make a single run between them, leaving Davies unbeaten and frustrated on 65.

A Nottinghamshire wicket would have been nice from a Surrey perspective, but nothing was forthcoming - Wessels and Steven Mullaney bringing up a collective 50 with a single off the last ball of the day.

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  • Ray on July 9, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Good report. Credit to Notts, they must have kept at it, however, even though I only caught an hour of the match in mid-afternoon, it was clear that this was not a 200 all out pitch.

    Another feeble batting effort by Surrey with, yet again, the only bright spots supplied by Burns and Davies. Be they imports (Solanki, Ponting, etc.) or home-grown (Harinath, Roy, Ansari), it doesn't matter they have failed too often this season in the CC.

    Where to go from here?

  • Irving on July 9, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    Think this is Punter's last game for us. For the last few years we cannot bowl sides out twice until the 3/4 games. Cannot see Surrey staying up this time round. WE are jus a very average 4 day 40 over side.

    Old boys don't work out, but I wish Alec the best. Notts win this in 3 days me thinks. Get rid of the old boys and get some youngster in - can't do any worse. again it was zander de no brain.

    What's Boycott and Beefy up to these days, surely not tool old with Surrey's recruitment policy. I'll take Kapil Dev as the all rounder. RIP>

  • Isaac on July 8, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    Marvellous effort, that. Concise, yet succeeding not only in summarising the progress of the match but also in giving the reader a rich taste of the spectacle. A super report all round.

  • Mark on July 8, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    Very pleasing day for Notts fans. Losing the toss I didn't expect to be batting today. As commented above though we have to bat a long time first up against Batty and Keedy who are a far superior spin pair than White and Patel. That said we have the batting and the overall better team moral to do a job tomorrow. An intriguing day follows.

  • Mark on July 8, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    This was the sort of day that Surrey really could not afford. A win in this match would have lifted them away from the relegation zone and brought Nottinghamshire right back into the battle to avoid the drop. As it is, it looks like only a very very good day tomorrow will save Surrey from a desperate fight to save the match. 300 from Notts and it will be very hard for Surrey to come back. If the pitch is expected to deteriorate, a one hundred run lead would be like gold.

    There are signs that Ajmal Shazad is beginning to get his form and confidence back. If he does, that can only be good for Nottinghamshire and, potentially, England.

  • Michael on July 8, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    A well written piece especially about Burns who seems the only light in the gloom these days. I thought the sacking of Adams was supposed to be the panacea for all ills. Really what is needed is someone to pull this team of disparate talents into a whole - too much talent not enough spirit. Re Ponting-it's always sad when the sun sets on a true great.He will be missed.

  • Cyril on July 8, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    It's down to Batty and Keedy to out bowl Patel and White. If they cannot do this then again the overall tactics and approach to the match will have failed and nothing will have changed from Adams.

    Four T20 wins cannot disguise a joke of a season. One look at the players Notts could leave out shows Surrey's overall philosophy up. A squad needs players capable of stepping in for those out of form and to put pressure on those in the team. Surrey have chosen not to have this this season and are paying the price.

  • jim on July 8, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    steve davis is a class player with good tehnique why he was left out from the international team is unknown

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