Wilson battles in worrying times for Surrey
Derbyshire 64 for 1 trail Surrey 239 (Wilson 65, White 3-43, Footitt 3-74) by 175 runs
These are worrying times for Surrey - and some supporters of other counties are deriving a little vicarious pleasure from it all. Although there was the greatest sympathy for everyone at The Oval following the frightening collision between Rory Burns and Moses Henriques at Arundel, the subsequent defeat by Glamorgan at Guildford was celebrated as halting the county's progress towards promotion to Division One.
That result left Gareth Batty's team only 12 points ahead of Glamorgan having played a game more and it offered hope to other sides that a couple of wins might give them a chance of finishing in one of the top two places. All this managed to heap more significance on Surrey's current match against Derbyshire, and when the visitors stumbled to 155 for 6 halfway through the day's play, it seemed that those envious of the financial clout available to Alec Stewart and Graham Ford would have more misfortune to enjoy.
The detractors should have had their fun, too. Gary Wilson was dropped by Wes Durston at second slip off Mark Footitt when he was 29. Four overs later Batty was spilled by substitute fielder Shiv Thakor at backward square leg off the same bowler when he was 13. Neither chance was difficult by professional standards. Had either been taken, a seventh-wicket stand that eventually yielded 80 runs would have been ended and Surrey may have been bowled out for rather less than the 239 they managed. Instead of that, Derbyshire rather shot themselves in the Footitt, as it were.
The importance of the partnership between Wilson and Batty was highlighted when Surrey lost their last four wickets for four runs in 21 balls following the captain's dismissal on 41 when he edged Wayne White to Tom Poynton. White also removed Wilson, leg before for a fighting 65 off 121 balls, and then Footitt cleaned up both Tom Curran and Tim Linley courtesy of Poynton's fourth and fifth snares of the day. The left-arm seamer finished with 3 for 74 and will hope that England's slip cordon is more secure should he play in an Ashes Test. Good luck with that, the cynics may observe.
Surrey's bowlers then had a chance to defend a first-innings total that is no more than par on a pitch that tends to favour batsmen on the second day. They claimed just one wicket, though, that of Billy Godleman who was caught by Wilson off a fine ball from Luke Fletcher for 10. That evening session represented a triumph for Ben Slater, who had lasted a total of 18 deliveries in previous five Championship innings. His scores in that time 0,0,2,1,0 are probably a dialling code to somewhere but they also meant that poor Slater did not really have a clue what sort of form he was in, having not batted long enough to find out. Anyway, he edged the first ball of the innings for four and was undefeated on 17 overnight. His relief may scorn confinement. His second-wicket partner, Hamish Rutherford, is 23 not out and Derbyshire hold the advantage.
The home side's ascendancy is also due to their fine bowling in first half of Sunday's play. Although Arun Harinath and Zafar Ansari put on 54 in an opening stand that featured half a dozen fine boundaries by Harinath, White had the Guildford century-maker caught behind for 35. Then the impressive Tom Taylor removed Ansari, caught at slip by Durston, before bowling Dominic Sibley with a trimmer which defeated the batsman's orthodox defensive shot and knocked back the off stump.
That left Surrey on 69 for 3 and it also marked Taylor's last significant contribution to the day's cricket. When attempting to begin his second spell after lunch the right-arm seamer pulled up with a calf injury and Durston's offspin was pressed into service at the Racecourse End. In the short-term the change proved useful since Durston induced debutant Dean Elgar, -on a ten-day deal - to sky a drive to Tony Palladino at mid-off when he had stroked a useful 44. Durston then had James Burke stumped for a single, leaving the home side facing the prospect of gaining no batting bonus points from their innings.
That possibility was averted but there is still plenty of work for Surrey to do after a long, albeit interesting, day closed at 6.40pm. By then the wind was whistling down Sir Frank Whittle Way in a city whose road-system, at least in the immediate environs of the splendid County Ground, seems as hostile to pedestrians as those of parts of Dallas or Los Angeles. One imagines that Derby, for all its many charms, is not frequently compared to those metropolises.