Wagg battles back with ton on harum-scarum day
Glamorgan 323 for 8 (Wagg 116*, Wallace 92) trail Surrey 406 (Ansari 91, Wagg 4-89) by 83 runs
Regardless of any restructuring of the County Championship, Surrey have made their commitment to the Woodbridge Road ground at Guildford palpable. 800 permanent seats were put up in the close-season here and the rather ramshackle old pavilion should be next. Surrey hope renovation will be complete by 2017 when, with The Oval hosting five Champions Trophy games, Guildford could even be awarded two first-class matches.
As Zafar Ansari compiled his austere 91 on a rather genteel opening day there was copious time to admire Guildford's protruding sycamore trees. But Ansari's dismissal to the seventh ball of the second day, trapped on the crease by Michael Hogan, was the prelude to a harum-scarum day: cricket straight from the Brendon McCullum school, as the cliché du jour would have it. After 439 runs and 12 wickets it was a little hard what to make of it all. There was even time for a six because of overthrows.
Those runs were gifted rather generously to Graham Wagg. Still, they were well earned for the entertainment he provided spectators at Surrey's 77th game here. Entering the crease at 106 for 6, perhaps a little perturbed about his demotion in the batting order to grant greater opportunity to Craig Meschede, Wagg arrived brimming with intent. He smited anything short, drove with purpose through the offside and attacked spin with particular relish, striking two emphatic straight sixes off Ansari. The upshot was a chanceless 99-ball century - though Arun Harinath shelled a very sharp return catch a few balls later - as Wagg resurrected Glamorgan's innings in partnership with Mark Wallace. The two harried the fielders at every turn in their aggressive running between the wickets in adding 152 in 26.3 overs.
"It was fantastic. Mark and I tried to take the initiative to the bowlers," Wagg said. "The game is moving forward and forward and as players we have to adapt to that."
If McCullum was watching in preparation for New Zealand's next ODI, he would have been proud at the sight of Wallace, showing no regard for the leg slip poised, reverse-sweeping with impunity. Wallace's innings would have made for a worthy first century of the season, but he fell eight runs shy after playing around a straight one from Tom Curran.
Still, the partnership had transformed the complexion of the match after Glamorgan had been in a fine mess at 30 for 4: a position from which Surrey sensed ending their winless run at Guildford, which now extends to 13 years. Curran and Chris Tremlett both bowled with hostility and vim, extracting good lift from a fine wicket: it still provides full value for shots, but now ensures a more even contest between bat and ball. Both opening bowlers got deliveries to hurry onto the batsmen, with devastating effect: Jacques Rudolph, Glamorgan's captain and talisman, played on against Curran, while Chris Cooke was bowled as the ball bounced down from his bat, raised to leave Tremlett's delivery alone.
Colin Ingram provided an enterprising riposte, driving with ferocity and pulling a flat six off Curran. It must have been enough to remind Surrey of his 91 at The Oval in a T20 game last month, so it was a matter of considerable relief to the hosts when he edged an outswinger from Aneesh Kapil to Vikram Solanki at slip. Still, Ingram had shown his colleagues the way, and Glamorgan only diverged from it in the final hour of the day, as Wagg and Andrew Salter accumulated 13 runs from 13 overs. If everyone was a bit exhausted, they could be forgiven as much on a day that did not end until 6.45pm.
Much earlier in the day, Surrey had already contributed plenty of exhilarating hitting of their own. Curran already looks rather too good a player to come in at No. 9, and he was bumped down a further spot because of Surrey's use of a nightwatchman. After 60 at Grace Road, his maiden first-class half-century, Curran amassed 45 here, including three consecutive boundaries off David Lloyd: an uppercut through point, a drive through extra-cover and a cut along the ground. With Gary Wilson typically resourceful, Chris Tremlett twice harrumphed Salter's offspin for a huge straight six. As Surrey passed 400, their only regret was their intent had come a little late, so they were restricted to three batting points.
Underpinning this frenetic but hugely enjoyable day was a feeling - in the best sense - of how little it all mattered. What was really important was the news that Moises Henriques was discharged from hospital, after Rory Burns had been the previous day. Curran captured the mood: "It was a horrible incident. To have them both all in one piece is really good news."
Tim Wigmore is a freelance journalist and author of Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts