Glamorgan v Surrey, Colwyn Bay, 2nd day July 7, 2014

Ansari heightens Surrey's persona

Paul Edwards at Colwyn Bay

Surrey 400 for 5 (Ansari 112, Burns 97) lead Glamorgan 232 by 168 runs

Why do people dislike Surrey? Money and metropolitan envy might have something to do with it but there is surely little of which one can disapprove about their cricket at present. Gary Wilson's team went into this match against Glamorgan 20 points ahead of their opponents having played one game more; both counties have realistic promotion ambitions. Yet there is no doubt which has looked the stronger side in two days of mostly high clouds and high spirits on the North Wales coast.

The difference in the approach of the teams' batsmen has been particularly noticeable and it was epitomised on Monday by the slight yet substantial figure of Zafar Ansari. Whereas the Glamorgan batsmen had been more content to throw their bats and take their chances, Ansari preferred care and orthodoxy as he anchored his team towards a substantial first innings lead.

Beginning the day on 55 not out, Ansari, the 23-year-old Cambridge graduate, had faced 267 balls and batted for 339 minutes when a Will Owen misfield allowed him to scamper the two extra runs he needed to reach his second Championship century of the season. Ansari reached that landmark in mid-afternoon, by which time he had seen four partners dismissed, but the tempi of other batsmen's innings mattered little to him.

Rory Burns, for example, had faced 166 balls and was three runs short of his own century when he top-edged an attempted pull off Ruaidhri Smith to Jacques Rudolph at mid-off. That mid-morning reverse ended a first-wicket stand of 182 but it only brought in Arun Harinath who almost immediately began to score at a run a ball, hitting Dean Cosker straight for six and then sweeping the slow left-armer almost indecently.

Ansari looked on, chatted in mid-wicket and then returned to his own cocoon of concentration. In short, he batted with all the judgement and discrimination one would expect of a cricketer whose favourite television show is The West Wing.

Harinath, on the other hand, played as if intent on proving that there was far more to his game than his self-denying vigil at Chelmsford in May had shown. On that treasured occasion, he faced 231 balls in making 63; context is everything, of course, but against Glamorgan Harinath took 149 balls fewer to plunder 60 runs off an attack which buckled down rather more impressively than the home batsmen had managed.

The undisputed leader of Glamorgan's bowling cohort was Michael Hogan who had the left-handed Harinath taken at slip by Rudolph with the new ball before immediately inflicting the same fate on the right-handed Solanki, who pushed tentatively at his first delivery but could only edge it to third slip where Chris Cooke took a fine two-handed diving catch.

That fine piece of pace bowling left Surrey still prosperously-placed on 270 for 4 and a further 46 had been added, 37 of them in 47 balls by Steven Davies when the visitors' No. 5 played across a straight ball from Allenby. Still Ansari pushed, deflected and occasionally drove his way on.

Indeed, it took meteorology to remove him, albeit not permanently. It happened like this. On the first day of this game the wind turbines in Ormes Bay had been still as figures on a semaphore chart; by Monday morning they were waving like demented umpires in the latter stages of a T20 innings. At 3.15pm the breezes gusted a shower from the West and umpires Jeff Evans and Peter Willey made to depart. "Get on with it!" a bloke in the crowd yelled, as the rain briefly abated. The officials remained. "Oggy, oggy, oggy!" roared another chap helpfully, although whether he was in pain or ecstasy was unclear. No matter. The shower organised itself and 16 overs were trimmed from the day.

When the batsman returned Ansari added only six more runs, taking his tally to a career-best 112 before he chopped Allenby on to his stumps. But there was still enough time prior to a final shower for Roy to take heavy toll of both Smith and Owen in reaching a 55-ball fifty. By then, perhaps, Ansari was enjoying a well-earned shower and reflecting on another good day in what is proving to be an important summer for him.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    Chris Campling what are you on? For one give the kid a break at the start of his opening career. for another Yorkshire regularly missed out on full batting points with Boycott not out at he end of their innings. Surrey will be delighted with what the boy is doing.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    I think it is pretty obvious that, in a team which harbours Jason Roy a little further down the order, Ansari has been given a clear and intelligible role, which does not require rapid scoring. His job is to anchor the innings, and rotate the strike. If he compromised in this, and tried to lift his scoring rate to 4 an over, he would fail in one objective or the other. What he is doing gives the others much more freedom to attack. Credit goes to Ansari for performing this key role, and (I would guess) to Wilson for giving him a licence to do so. I should guess that this is a real team effort, and it is clearly a very sensible approach. I would be very surprised if Wilson, or Alec Stewart, is taking Ansari on one side and asking him to pep it up a bit.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    incidentally, ansari batted for 42 overs for 55 on the first day, hardly "not slowly". in the end he was in for nearly seven hours - this for a team that was well on top for much of the day. if he can bat more quickly, he should, indeed must

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    @ william franklin; yes you're right - he has done very well. but the fact is that he is batting at 36 per hundred balls, which means just over two runs an over. it's not enough; others are going at 20 or better thank him, and it's unfair on them to expect them to take up the slack. even boycott knew that it was his responsibility, once he was settled, to incerase the scoring rate when he could. the longer he bats, the easier run-scoring should be, and it's ime he showed that. as you say, he can do it in t20 matches; it's time showed an ability to shift brains. after all he is an oxbridge boy

  • Arif on July 8, 2014, 6:54 GMT

    @Nutcutlet. Well said. Ansari seems to be progressing well as a player and with the right guidance, he can become a lot better. All the best to him and Surrey.

  • Adam on July 8, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    @Chris that's harsh on ansari. He certainly was not slow on day one and was more careful on day two as conditions were a little more difficult. Over the last 5 games Surrey have dominated teams on the batting front and ansari should take much credit for setting the platform. He's batting as this team needs given the other players in the side. He can bat aggressively, as anyone who has seen him in T20 over past seasons will know.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    @ nutcutlet yes, you're right, this late flowering of surrey is very pleasing, but how are we going to survive, let along thrive, in the first divisiion next year with ansari opening the batting and going at his own personal rate regardless of the situation? one of the county's problems last year was its runs per over rate which meant that the county never really got in a position to declare and set a decent run chase. luckily this year ansari can bat at his own - highly successful, it has to be admitted - rate and have the other batsmen such as roy (in particular), davies and wilson actually do the real job of going for a win. in the first division, against better teams, they could well struggle again. jack hobbsfor one, a man who knew how to bat for the team more than anything, must be spinning in his grave

  • ian on July 7, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    This is proving a break-through season for Zafar Ansari. Although far from the finished product, he has that about him that suggests that he could go far in our game. And at last Surrey have found a captain who can really take them forward; Gary Wilson seems to have that nous and touch that characterises all genuine captains. You can just tell, can't you? (ECB, are you listening?). Well done, Wilson's Warriors! My faith is Surrey is beginning to be restored. It's been a while...

  • No featured comments at the moment.