Batty Surrey's route to victory
Glamorgan 232 and 182 for 2 (Rudolph 73, Bragg 73) trail Surrey 589 for 8 dec. (Wilson 97*, Roy 70, Tremlett 56) by 175 runs
Gareth Batty is far too professional a cricketer to let his mind wander from North Wales to Nottingham on Wednesday morning. Yet on the evidence of his accurate offspin bowling on the third evening of this game, he really would not be the daftest pick should England decide they need a specialist spinner and that other candidates are too young, too inaccurate or too potty.
Certainly one hopes that Batty's 36 years would not count against him. Age is another word for experience and Batty's dismissal of the Glamorgan openers Will Bragg and Jacques Rudolph, both for 73, both lbw on the back foot, spoke eloquently for this slow bowler's hard-won ability to wear batsmen down with accuracy, flight and a modicum of turn on a flattish pitch.
Supporters of both Glamorgan and Surrey, of course, may argue that they do not give a World Cup wall-chart for Test cricket. There is something in that, too. Batty's two wickets in successive overs may matter purely in the context of this game and Division Two of the County Championship: for they bolstered Surrey's hopes that they could take eight wickets in around two sessions and secured a third victory in four games, thereby strengthening their chances of winning promotion come September.
That said, if Glamorgan lose this match, they will deserve a severe telling-off. Having batted poorly against good Surrey bowling on Sunday, it was barely a surprise that they conceded a 357-run first innings lead. But the serene competence displayed by Bragg and Rudolph in putting on 155 for the first wicket on the third afternoon and evening of this match should stiffen their colleagues' determination that Batty and his young slow bowling apprentice Zafar Ansari can be resisted, even on a last day pitch.
Until the spinners got to serious work in the last 90 minutes of the day, Rudolph and Bragg had played with evident good sense, albeit that they encountered an odd alarm. Yet neither Chris Tremlett nor Tom Curran had looked as threatening as they did on the first day, which merely reinforced one's earlier impression that this was a decent wicket, one on which a batsman with a secure technique could spend some time.
Indeed, the first third of the day plus eight overs after lunch was taken up with Surrey's batsmen building the sort of lead that would more or less obviate any need for them to perform again. They achieved this not through the thunderous strokeplay of the much-lauded Jason Roy, but by a collaborative effort led by the skipper Gary Wilson, whose mix-up with Roy led to the latter's run out in the fifth over of the morning.
Wilson's subsequent batting did not evince any need to do penance. Rather, he added 61 runs in 17 overs with the equally professional Batty, both batsmen lifting Cosker for straight sixes. But the ball after he achieved this feat Batty was stumped for 26 when he gallivanted down the wicket again, only to deflect the ball behind him to the alert Mark Wallace.
That was Cosker's only success and one rather doubts that this ground with its flat pitch and short boundaries is one of his favourites. Certainly his suffering was not ended by his solitary success; instead it was merely intensified by the massive Tremlett, who twice levered the spinner into the scampering boys on the Embankment.
Tremlett handed out similar punishment and more to other bowlers, most noticeably Ruaidhri Smith, who was clubbed over point, the ball arcing into the chestnut tree behind the pavilion balcony and causing the other Surrey players to interrupt their various relaxations. "Suddenly, the sound of summer as the thumped ball, alive, would leave the applauding ground", wrote the Cardiff poet Dannie Abse of a Glamorgan match in 1935, and it scarcely seemed to matter that Tremlett hails from Southampton rather than Senghenydd.
In the event, one of the more curiously unfulfilled talents in the English game reached his second fifty of the season when he hooked Bragg towards the ice cream trolley. Seemingly sated by having lashed sixes to three sides of the compact arena, Tremlett was then caught by Wallace for a 53-ball 56, thus giving Will Owen his first wicket, although final figures of 1 for 93 may not have pleased the St. Asaph chap.
Owen's success was also Glamorgan's last wicket of the day. Clouds had been building throughout the luncheon interval and they eventually deposited half an hour or so of mostly light rain on Penrhyn Avenue, cutting eight overs from the day and prompting Surrey's declaration, albeit that skipper Wilson was 97 not out.
The timing of the closure could not really be seriously disputed. When Wilson called a halt, his team had a lead of 357 and he probably knew that the home side would not crumble like fresh Caerphilly for a second time in the match. The rest of the day proved that judgement accurate; Surrey's five-man attack will have to do their state noble service if they are to take eight wickets and secure the handsome spoils.