Foakes takes chance to bolster Surrey
Surrey 349 for 6 (Foakes 140*, S Curran 49) lead Gloucestershire 233 by 116 runs
Ben Foakes left Essex at the end last season for Surrey in pursuit of more first-team cricket. While he has got his chances in the limited-overs side he has only made the Championship team when others have been unavailable.
When Gary Wilson has not been around he has kept wicket, when Jason Roy was away with England he earned a few games as a specialist batsman. A broken finger for Steven Davies saw him back in the team as a batsman. There is an argument to be made that a fit Zafar Ansari could have meant that Foakes would have missed out here.
He has certainly made the most of his opportunities when he has been selected. His hundred takes his season total to 499 runs at an average of 62. Such are Surrey's batting riches there is every chance that Foakes will still be fighting for a spot even after this innings with the return of Kumar Sangakkara imminent and Arun Harinath having just put pen to a new two year deal - although by rights his hundred here should have moved him up the queue.
Foakes' innings was near faultless, the one mistake came when he top edged a ball from James Fuller when on 75 that ballooned into the leg side but out of the reach of Gareth Roderick. Surrey could well have used this Foakes effort as platform to build an insurmountable position in this game. However, despite some excellent starts from the others in the Surrey middle order no one could keep Foakes company in a really significant partnership.
Gloucestershire's bowlers could not make up for the batting profligacy yesterday as the Surrey batsman got up to and beyond their host's total with real ease, but there was a steady flow of wickets from that point onwards with Surrey's batsmen playing a significant hand in their dismissals. In an attack without Craig Miles, who is still recovering from his back problems, Gloucestershire looked to be missing a spark.
The day began with Sam Curran batting as nightwatchman and there was no clearer example of how poorly the Gloucestershire top order had performed on the opening day than witnessing a 17-year-old in his third first-class game ease his way to a career-best 49.
When Curran's dismissal did come it was surprise. The weight of the milestone he was approaching began to tell as he lost his fluency but he did not look like getting dismissed. A short, wide ball from Kieran Noema-Barnett was there to be hit but it caught the top edge and flew into the hands of David Payne at point. It was hugely disappointing for the young man to go so close to his first half-century at this level but on the evidence of today it will not be long before he has a chance to get there again.
He was replaced by Steven Davies and the left-hander looked completely at ease at the crease on his way to 23 only to get out leaving a ball from Jack Taylor that bowled him. It is the second time in as many Championship matches that Davies has departed this way having done the same off the bowling of Monty Panesar at Colchester against Essex.
Next it was Jason Roy's turn to get out just as he looked well set. He had been dismissive of the bowling of Noema-Barnett up to that point before being trapped lbw by a full delivery. Surrey were guilty of not putting the destination of this game beyond all doubt - five men made it past 20 but did not go past 50. If one of the batsmen could have stayed with Foakes for a sustained period Surrey could have had been looking at declaring this evening. With the poor weather forecast for the next two days they need to keep the game moving to force a victory.
As it is the undefeated 140 from Foakes, his third century against Gloucestershire in his career and his second this season, left Surrey fighting the weather for the win more than their opponents. Having started the day with just eight runs to his name Foakes made it all the way through to the close when a foreshadowing of the weather that is forecast in the coming days brought the today to a premature end with Surrey 116 runs in front.
Surrey may consider an overnight declaration, but with them just one run shy of a third batting bonus point they may feel inclined to continue in the morning, providing the weather allows it.
Peter Miller is a cricket writer and podcaster. @TheCricketGeek