Surrey v Lancashire, Specsavers Championship Div One, Kia Oval, 1st day April 14, 2017

Clark's aggressive hundred turns Lancashire's day on its head

Lancashire 294 for 6 (Clark 108*, Chanderpaul 85, Footitt 3-90) v Surrey
Scorecard

Play 01:22
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Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Jordan Clark are two deeply contrasting cricketers, but on a gloomy day at Kia Oval they forged a wonderful alliance to change the complexion of the opening day. While Chanderpaul neared his 74th first-class hundred, Clark scored a long-awaited maiden ton, brought up with a towering hook for six off Mark Footitt: a shot in keeping with the spirit of élan that infused this innings.

In a cricketing world in flux, the sight of Chanderpaul furiously knocking a bail with his bat to take guard has a reassuring familiarity. Some were underwhelmed at his recruitment for a summer in which he will turn 43. This, though, was the sort of crisis for which he was signed, after Lancashire lost half their side before lunch.

Chanderpaul's response was to do as Chanderpaul does: playing the ball late and with great care and, above all, knowing when not to play it, dangling his bat inside the line as if to tease the bowler. With Clark, who gallivanted to his century by advancing from 82 to his hundred in the space of five balls from Footitt, he forged a match-turning alliance.

Where the left-hander Chanderpaul batted in his own gilded cage, inoculated from the changing face of the sport, right-hander Clark bristled with intent, breezily overtaking his partner in spite of giving him a 62-ball head start. Where Chanderpaul favoured precise late cuts, glides and flick, Clark preferred to sweep against spin or thunder drives or hooks against pace.

Where Chanderpaul resolved to keep the ball on the ground, save for one clip over mid-on, Clark is not the sort to be perturbed by the presence of fielders, and harrumphed two straight sixes against spin before the hook over square leg off Footitt that led to his moment of delight.

"It's pretty hard to describe right now," he said, elated, after play. "If I try and survive it's not one of my strengths. If I come out and play with intent, but don't play rashly, it's going to work better for me.

"The only pressure that comes with batting with Chanderpaul is you've got such an experienced bloke at the other end it makes you work harder because you can't throw your wicket away - you've seen him bat for days. You've got to put your foot down and bat with him in partnership."

Here was a reminder that this is a game for all sorts. And in adding an unbroken 172 to lift Lancashire from the debris of 122 for 6, Clark and Chanderpaul let Lancashire lay claim to shading the opening day.

Four years ago, Clark hit six sixes in an over in a Roses 2nd XI match. Broad-shouldered and lacking neither shots or the confidence to play them, he is a cricketer ideally suited to Twenty20; indeed, he had to wait four years between his T20 debut and his first-class bow.

Surrey, though, are well-aware that Clark is determined to be viewed as more than just a limited-overs cricketer. For the third season in a row he scored a half-century at The Oval - three of his five first-class scores of 50 or more have come here. Some of his shots - a square drive off Tom Curran, an imperious short-arm jab through mid-on off Sam Curran, and the disdain with which he hooked Footitt in the last throes of the day - hinted at talent too great to be batting at No. 8. On the first day for 18 years on which all first-class counties played Championship cricket simultaneously, it was Clark who made the solitary century in the land.

What gratitude Liam Livingstone must feel. Captaining Lancashire for the first time, he had opted against inserting Surrey, and, undeterred by an overcast morning and Surrey's potent pace attack, decided to bat first.

The conditions demanded Haseeb Hameed's adhesiveness; instead, he wafted at his second delivery to be caught behind off Sam Curran. Bowling an immaculate line, elder brother Tom soon elicited Luke Procter to poke to second slip too.

Six days on from dismantling Warwickshire with 6 for 14 at this ground, there was anticipation and fascination in seeing Footitt bowl again. He was indeed utterly compelling throughout. Three wickets came in a first spell that interspersed balls sprayed around with those of great peril, embodied by four byes down the leg side coming the ball before Alex Davies was lbw, playing across his pad to an inswinger that jagged late.

Livingstone shaped to counterpunch in response to the early wickets; a scampered single to mid-on would have run out Chanderpaul with a direct hit. Two balls after flicking Footitt for four, Livingstone clipped a delivery straight to square leg, so disgusted with himself that he started walking off as soon as he hit the shot.

It was the sort of shot one could never imagine Chanderpaul playing. Here he erred only in edging Tom Curran to second slip on 47, where Scott Borthwick, whose pyrotechnics in the position last week had gone viral, shelled the chance. As Footitt toiled under floodlights at the end of this truncated but intriguing day, Surrey had even more reason to rue their moment of generosity.

Tim Wigmore is a freelance journalist and author of Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts

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  • Cricinfouser on April 14, 2017, 19:53 GMT

    I don't know if Clark has visited his namesake river but he certainly crossed the Rubicon in this innings,great to c SC drop anchor and prove to b a perfect foil for his young partner. Do not blow it tomorrow boys we need more of the same from both of you

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