Afzaal, Spriegel and Jordan fire Surrey
Surrey 356 for 7 (Afzaal 89, Jordan 57*, Spriegel 51, Ramprakash 42) v Nottinghamshire
Surrey's top four batsmen made it look like hard work, but their lower order came to the team's rescue on the second day at Trent Bridge where the promised rain failed to materialise. There were two maiden fifties by promising young players in Matthew Spriegel and Chris Jordan, and, considering Nottinghamshire's rather fragile batting so far this season, Surrey can consider themselves to have an advantage going into the third day.
Surrey's overnight pair continued to make heavy weather of it. After scarcely ten minutes, Jonathan Batty, with 21 off 88 balls, was bowled through the gate by Darren Pattinson by the ball of the day, whipping in viciously at genuine pace from outside the off-stump.
Mark Ramprakash, for his part, continued to bat as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders, spending 90 minutes while adding just 11 to his overnight 19 before he showed any inclination to attack the bowling. And ten minutes later a drizzle started and lunch was taken early. He was lucky on 23, playing a bad shot that skied a ball backward of point, for the fielder running back hard to miss a very difficult chance, and it ran for four. It might have been a kindness to put him out of his misery.
In contrast, Usman Afzaal looked in good form almost from his arrival at the crease on the dismissal of Batty. He played some handsome strokes of real class, and tried to dominate Pattinson, whose superb bowling was Surrey's main threat. He didn't altogether succeed, but at one stage hit him for two superb cover drives in an over, and then pulled Charlie Shreck twice to the boundary. He overtook Ramprakash on 30, and reached his fifty just before the early lunch, off 61 balls.
Andre Adams also bowled well, troubling Ramprakash, whose painful innings finally came to an end, for 42 off 166 balls and in 218 minutes, as he got a leading edge to a ball from Pattinson and was caught by Graeme Swann, diving forward at cover. Pattinson ran through to give him a distasteful send-off, a foolhardy act as umpire Peter Willey is well known for his strong stand on such behaviour, and Pattinson will not have heard that last of that.
There followed a lengthy stand of 79 between Afzaal and Spriegel, the left-handed captain of Loughborough UCCE, who played quite an impressive, if rather slow, innings. Afzaal never recovered his pre-lunch fluency, but he should have reached a century, had he not lost patience, swung across the line at Shreck and lost his off stump for 89 (128 balls, 12 fours).
After tea, Spriegel reached his maiden first-class fifty off 146 balls, a patient innings with occasional impressive strokes. One run later, though, he popped a ball from Swann to short leg, making Surrey 252 for 6. But then followed the most positive and impressive partnership of the innings, as Matt Nicholson and Jordan, supposedly bowling all-rounders, played with real flair and good judgement. Jordan was particularly impressive with his clean, orthodox driving.
They added 47 in entertaining fashion when Nicholson, trying to bring up the 300 with a six, holed out on the long-on boundary for 38. However, Saqlain Mushtaq proved a more than adequate partner, in an inconspicuous way until he suddenly drove Adams over long-on for six. Jordan, despite a couple of sudden rustic heaves that failed to make contact, went on to reach his maiden first-class 50 off 66 balls, with a vigorous hook to the boundary off a bouncer from Shreck; he clearly has the ability to score many more.
With only seven wickets down after two days' play, rain having ruined the first day, Surrey will have to play well - or the home team badly - to force their first victory of the season. They have their noses in front in Nottingham, and day three should reveal whether they have the attitude and determination to make a good fist of it.