Surrey v Lancashire, Specsavers Championship Div One, Kia Oval, 3rd day April 16, 2017

Parry and Kerrigan leave Surrey in a spin

Surrey 319 (Burns 91, Parry 3-31) and 55 for 1 trail Lancashire 470 by 96 runs
Scorecard

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In days of yore, the sight of two spinners bowling in tandem, scuttling through their overs like squirrels scurrying up a tree, was commonplace on the county circuit. No longer. As surfaces offering prodigious turn have become rarer and ever-more matches shunted to the margins of the season, most counties have come to regard one specialist spinner as ample, and often got by without even that.

But on a chilly April afternoon at The Oval, Stephen Parry and Simon Kerrigan provided a throwback to this bygone age. In an age of indolent over rates, bustling though overs can flummox batsmen, as Somerset found out in their title push last summer. Parry and Kerrigan, Lancashire's two left-arm spinners, combined with a wall of close-in fielders to render Surrey's batsmen comatose and confused; they conceded just four runs in 14 overs after lunch while two wickets fell.

There was no prodigious turn, but the pair bowled an unrelenting line, varied their pace and bounce subtly and obtained just enough spin to provide a persistent menace. It made for beguiling cricket, and the six wickets shared by Parry and Kerrigan in the day put Lancashire in a position from which they could secure an unlikely victory.

This was just Parry's 12th first-class game since making his debut a full decade ago. He has won acclaim for his left-arm darts in limited-overs cricket, which have earned seven England caps and a Big Bash stint, yet has steadfastly rejected the temptation to specialise in T20 cricket.

At the start of the summer it had been almost three years since Parry's last first-class match. Selected ahead of Kerrigan as Lancashire's frontline spinner at Chelmsford last week, he vindicated the decision by taking 5 for 80 from 48.2 overs in the match, even if he could not quite bowl Lancashire to victory on the final day.

No one who saw Parry here, his precision rewarded by Kumar Sangakkara flicking nonchalantly to mid-on, Gareth Batty lofting the ball to mid-off in pursuit of the two Surrey needed to save the follow on, and then Mark Footitt trapped on the crease next delivery, would have marked him out as a white-ball specialist.

Kerrigan will not have fond memories of The Oval: it was here, four years ago, that he was eviscerated by Australia, in what remains his only eight overs in Test cricket.

Yet he gave a hint of what had led England to select him. Kerrigan would have particularly cherished the wicket of Zafar Ansari. He twice cut Ansari open, the ball spinning through a gap between bat and pad and agonisingly over the unprotected stumps. Soon, these pyrrhic victories translated into something altogether more tangible: Ansari's leg stump demolished by a ball that turned deliciously between his groping bat and pad while he appeared confused over whether to play forward or back.

Kerrigan sunk to his knees in joy: seldom does a left-arm spinner enjoy a moment of such perfection. Earlier, Ben Foakes had been yorked by a quicker delivery.

And, just before the close, Kerrigan produced another fine delivery, turning just enough to invite Rory Burns' edge. It left Lancashire to revel in how they had turned a position of 122 for 6 on the first afternoon into one from which they had enforced the follow on and could yet press for victory on the final day. The pitch is far from malign, but there are small pockets of footmarks against Surrey's left-handers and two spinners with the confidence to exploit them.

Parry and Kerrigan emphatically outbowled Surrey's own spin twins, both of whom played Test cricket last winter. The wicket of Dominic Sibley, run-out after a funereal 86-ball 10, spoke of how such unrelenting spin bowler can frazzle batsmen's minds.

There had been no hint of what was to come as Burns and Sangakkara marked a bright morning with some sumptuous shot-making. Burns, as is his wont, favoured three shots - the drive, often square of the wicket; the cut; and the leg-side flick - while some of Sangakkara's extra cover driving was so sweet it deserved to be wrapped inside an Easter egg.

All was serene, as the two added 99 at almost four runs an over, until, incongruously, Burns nibbled at a delivery from Kyle Jarvis. His slow trudge off, first looking to the skies and then solemnly at his feet as he climbed the stairs to return to the dressing room, spoke of his huge frustration: Burns had played terrifically for 91, yet his work was unfinished.

It was in keeping with an infuriating trend. Burns is respected throughout the circuit, as a first-class average in excess of 40 demands, but if he is to win the international acclaim that Surrey believe he is deserving of, he must dispel his propensity not to convert half-centuries. Since the start of 2016, Burns has passed 50 11 times in Division One Championship cricket but only made two centuries; an outstanding return for most, but not quite persuasive enough for the England selectors. That might change soon, just not tomorrow.

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

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  • cricfan09645384 on April 17, 2017, 16:17 GMT

    Kumar Sangakkara another elegant 100 ....

  • Rishtonian on April 17, 2017, 9:37 GMT

    Congratulations nutcutlet, exactly right. Unfortunately we are doomed at the moment to suffer the idiocies of people who use phrases such as 'future proof' as a verb and who treated Durham so villainously. Praise to Middlesex for holding out against the attempt to bribe counties into backing the ludicrous new T20 which the EB's own market research showed would be a failure. The start of the current season has been a salutary reminder that, even these days, money isn't everything.

  • Nutcutlet on April 17, 2017, 8:56 GMT

    Cricinfouser: you know it. I know it. Uncountable people across the country and in far flung-places know it too. Country cricket is an amazingly riveting sporting phenomenon - utterly irreplaceable - Summer's Crown, as Stephen Chalke has so memorably called it in the title of his splendid book. It needs to be nurtured and protected for the priceless heritage and high quality competition that it is. I have watched county cricket for longer than I care to remember - and my deep enjoyment has never diminished. If anything it has deepened. Since two divisions were introduced (a real master-stroke of administration... a collector's item if ever there were! ) the standard has risen inexorably - believe me; I am a seasoned and critical judge. It must endure because it is so worth defending in an age where so much is tawdry, money-driven, and short-visioned. The ECB, were they really concerned with what is worth it (and what is not) would and should be county cricket's greatest advocates.

  • Cricinfouser on April 16, 2017, 21:16 GMT

    Well bowled boys,whoever said county cricket is boring? Great to see spinners accepting the challenge. Has Mr Graves left his ivory tower to watch any cricket like this? Patience and determination played a big part today.

  • JohnYelton on April 16, 2017, 20:37 GMT

    Good to see so many spinners chosen in the CC. Two for Lancs. Two for Somerset, two for Essex etc. Do April pitches favour spin or is this a new retro trend?

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