Surrey v Kent, Guildford, 3rd day

Kent checked by Meaker magic

David Lloyd at Guildford

July 21, 2014

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Kent 408 and 229 for 6 (Key 59, Nash 51, Meaker 4-67) lead Surrey 398 (Wilson 84, Meaker 53, Stevens 4-110) by 239 runs

Stuart Meaker enjoyed removing Ben Foakes, Surrey v Essex, County Championship, Division Two, The Oval, April 21, 2014
Stuart Meaker has claimed eight wickets in the match to go with a half-century © Getty Images
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Twice during another absorbing day's play at Woodbridge Road, Kent thought they were in a position to dictate terms - and twice they saw their plans ripped apart by an inspired Stuart Meaker, who is relishing every minute of his return to Championship action.

At 316 for 9 early on the third morning, Surrey seemed in grave danger of surrendering a potentially decisive first-innings deficit of around 90 to their fellow promotion hopefuls, only for Meaker to make an excellent half-century at No. 9 while sharing in a situation-changing stand of 82 with Matt Dunn.

But if Meaker's batting was good, his post-tea bowling spell bordered on the brilliant. With Brendan Nash and Rob Key both well set, the 25-year-old quick bent his back still further to remove two half-century makers in the space of eight deliveries. From sitting relatively pretty on 164 for 2, the visitors were suddenly a startled-looking 173 for 4 with uncertainty written all over their faces.

A couple of overs later, Sam Northeast went in search of a distinctly optimistic single after driving Meaker just wide of mid-on and was comfortably run-out following Darren Stevens' understandable decision to send him back. Then, with the total stuck on 176, Stevens looked around in horror to find he had been brilliantly caught low down at second slip as Dunn joined his fast-bowling mate in the wickets column.

It was a terrific passage of play. And while Kent regrouped sufficiently through Sam Billings and Calum Haggett to reach 229 for 6 by the close, they are only 239 ahead going into the final day with all outcomes possible on this fast-scoring ground.

Kent will certainly believe they can get among Surrey's batsmen in the fourth innings, having posed plenty of problems during the second. But whether they can find a bowler to match Meaker is the big question.

'This has been a big chance for me'

  • "I was happy with that," said a smiling Stuart Meaker after dominating the third day of Surrey's match against Kent by scoring 53 and then taking 4 for 67. "But I'm not sure whether I'm happier with the 50 or the four wickets. I was a bit scratchy at the start of my innings and there were a few edges but I've had that done to me before as a bowler so I thought why not keep going.
  • "I was gutted to miss out on those last two runs [to give Surrey maximum batting points] but Matt Dunn and I had chanced our arms."
  • And the wickets? "I was due a long bowl and it has been tough sitting on the sidelines seeing the other boys going at it. This has been a big chance for me to come in and I'm glad it came off the way it did today. I think it's still alto play for in the game but if we can break this [seventh-wicket] partnership tomorrow we have a great chance of winning the game."

This pitch has encouraged the quicks from the very start - offering pace, bounce, carry and movement. Indeed, umpire Rob Bailey mentioned midway through the third day that he had seldom, if ever, seen so many runs scored when the bat was being beaten so regularly. But having a big enough heart to keep pounding away when the wickets are not coming is another vital attribute - and one which Meaker demonstrated throughout this steamy day.

He had missed a total of eight Championship matches - initially through injury and then as a result of selection policy - before being recalled to front-line duty on Sunday. A frustrated tweet a week or two ago indicated that he felt the wait was longer than strictly necessary but a four-wicket haul in the first innings here looked to be an even better response.

Today's runs were a nice bonus but not entirely unexpected because he made a Championship score of 72 as long ago as 2009. Meaker the bowler caught the eye even more, though.

First, he made sure Kent did not get away to a flier by finding a couple of outside edges as Daniel Bell-Drummond tried to lower his bat beneath a lifter and Ben Harmison defended unsuccessfully. It was the later, nine-over spell of 2 for 33 that really rocked Kent, however - Nash snicking an attempted upper cut and Key finding slip after driving at one that left him.

The pace was right up there throughout, so was the aggression and with Meaker consistently hitting the right line and length it was easy to remember why he figured so prominently on England's radar a year or two ago.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (July 23, 2014, 16:40 GMT)

I think you'll find we've won!

Posted by Nutcutlet on (July 23, 2014, 8:06 GMT)

Another great finish in prospect -- on an outground, pls note, all concerned. Great return for Stuart Meaker who must have quite a lot of local support considering he went to school at Cranleigh, a few miles south of Woodbridge Road. I'm interested to see how Surrey juggle (or to use pompous ECB talk, rotate) all the quicks on stream: Dunn, Meaker, Linley, Tremlett (plus Dernbach & Curran when they return), then there are George Edwards and Tom Jewell, waiting their turns...

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