Warwickshire v Surrey, Edgbaston, 1st day September 17, 2013

Rain pushes Surrey closer to drop

Surrey 59 for 2 v Warwickshire

Surrey's chance of staying Division One may have been slim anyway but they could do without the abrupt arrival of autumn keeping them confined to the dressing room for all but the first hour and a quarter of the first day of their match against Warwickshire.

Umpires Richard Kettleborough and David Millns gave proceedings e as long as possible to be considered worthy of resuscitation but with the city centre tower blocks shrouded in mist and the puddles on the outfield fighting a losing battle against persistent heavy drizzle they called it off a short while after the scheduled tea interval.

At least Surrey had the beginnings of a partnership to provide modest encouragement after Warwickshire had won the toss and put them in. They will resume with Hashim Amla and Vikram Solanki together, the third wicket pair having added 41 for the third wicket.

Keith Barker, the left-armer with one England Lions appearance whose lack of more substantial international recognition remains a mystery, bowled beautifully to take two early wickets, removing 18-year-old Dominic Sibley and opening partner Rory Burns, both leg-before to full, swinging deliveries.

Under a heavily overcast sky and with the floodlights on from the outset, conditions were far from easy and Barker continued to test the batsmen, controlling the swing skillfully. Even with Boyd Rankin rested, after his return from England duty, and with Chris Wright still injured, the availability of Chris Woakes and loan signing Maurice Chambers gave Surrey a fearsome attack to contend with on such a grim morning.

Yet Amla, who bagged a pair during Surrey's woeful and critical defeat against Somerset last week, brought his experience to bear this time, as did Solanki. Both batsmen left the ball judiciously and were beginning to look relatively settled when the weather closed in. With the floodlights casting obvious shadows, and therefore clearly taking over from natural light, it seemed only a matter of time before the umpires would have to call a halt. Yet both batsmen unleashed handsome boundaries, Amla driving Barker to long-off, Solanki despatching Chambers through extra cover, so they were clearly seeing the ball well enough. Rain, though, was only just behind.

Some 29 points adrift of safety going into the penultimate round, Surrey are pretty much doomed. Warwickshire, defending their title unsuccessfully, look nothing of the sort, with a 27-point cushion between themselves and next-to-bottom Derbyshire, who have only one match remaining, although they could in theory still be caught by Surrey.

That possibility will be removed in short order if they take maximum bowling bonus points and dismiss Surrey for fewer than 350 runs.

Warwickshire again had Jamie Atkinson, the former Durham UCCE wicketkeeper, behind the stumps, with both Tim Ambrose and his stand-in, Peter Mckay, both injured. The 23-year-old Atkinson, now based in Hong Kong but who has been playing for Dorridge in the Birmingham League, is on a two-match contract.

He is the 24th player Warwickshire have used in their Championship programme, which is four more than were needed last season, and the eighth to have appeared in only one or two fixtures, which is an illustration of the inability to pick a settled side that has dogged director of cricket, Dougie Brown, in his first season in charge.

Brown believes no county has had to contend with as many injuries as Warwickshire and feels those able to make it on to the field deserve recognition for keeping the side clear of the bottom three. "We have not put our best team in the field once and in the circumstances we have done really well to be as competitive as we have been," he said.

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  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    Cmon guys.... Go out fighting and bloody win another game. If we go down by 5 I'll at least be happy we tried. If we lose these next two I'll be a bit miffed

  • Cyril on September 18, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    Who picks this Surrey team? It's another disgraceful selection. Again it is no different to what Adams would have picked. Why get rid of Adams if nothing will change?

    Surrey have been in must win matches for the entire second half of the season, but they play such negative cricket. Stewart talks about having to play "catch-up cricket" yet does nothing to prevent that occurring.

    In must win matches one must play attacking cricket. Roy should have been opening not Harinath and not a child. The Somerset match was crucial yet they pick a sixth-former. With Burns (who always starts slowly) paired with a debutant who would always play himself nervously, Surrey let themselves be bowled to. Roy would not have done this. If he got out playing aggressively then so be it. 0 of 1 ball or 0 of 16 it's still 0.

  • Mark on September 18, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Incidentally, Surrey are now all but down. To stay alive into the final round they need a minimum of 8 points from this game (and that assumes that Notts lose and take no points at all from their last game).

    In other words, if Surrey are all out for under 250, they can only stay alive if they win. With so much play already lost, that looks unlikely.

  • Mark on September 17, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    Surrey have slowly wised-up and this bodes well for better times in Division 2 next season. The persistent claims that there are no decent young players available seem to be contradicted in this game where only Batty and Solanki represent the over-35s. The young players who have been brought in may struggle in these last two games of the season, but they will be better for the experience and will form the nucleus of a side to make a challenge to come back up next season.

    Warwickshire will lament a disappointing season, but they have been far from disgraced and having had to use some of their reserves will do them no harm next year. Launching Boyd Rankin to the fringes of the Test side and a Test debut for Chris Woakes are an impressive record whatever the results in the Championship.

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