Jefferson dominates basement battle
Leicestershire 337 for 4 v Surrey
Will Jefferson ended his five-year wait for a County Championship hundred to put Leicestershire firmly in control of their Division Two clash with Surrey at The Oval. The 6' 10" opener made 135 as Leicestershire took advantage of ideal batting conditions to reach 337 for 4 at stumps on day one in the battle of the division's bottom two.
Jefferson, 30, is in his first season with his third county. He made his last Championship hundred during his spell with Essex after which he had three fairly unproductive summers with Nottinghamshire before moving to Grace Road. Driving impressively and using his massive frame to get on top of any new-ball bounce, he struck 19 fours and two sixes, the first of which took him to his hundred. It was an impressive shot too as he swept offspinner Gareth Batty over midwicket and out of the ground.
Jefferson had a reprieve on 128 when he was badly dropped by Arun Harinath at long leg off a top-edged hook and had added just seven more when he top-edged a cut at legspinner Chris Schofield and was taken at backward point, having faced 174 balls.
Jade Dernbach had made the breakthrough in the fourth over when Matt Boyce fell lbw for a duck to a ball which nipped back off the seam but Jefferson and veteran Paul Nixon made serene progress either side of lunch in a stand of 105 from 33 overs for the second wicket. Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown bowled his spinners in tandem before lunch but there was precious little turn and the home attack spent most of the day trying to build pressure and wait for mistakes.
Nixon had looked untroubled as he moved to 41 when he was bowled via an inside edge aiming to drive Chris Tremlett through the off side in the 37th over. Jefferson then joined forces with James Taylor in the most productive stand of the day as they added 118 in 21 overs with Taylor, who scored a double hundred on this ground last season, matching his partner stroke for stroke.
After Jefferson's dismissal, Taylor put on 40 with South African Jacques du Toit and had reached 63 from 80 balls, with six fours, when he was bowled playing back to Batty's arm ball. But any hopes of further Surrey success were blunted by du Toit and wicketkeeper Tom New, who put on an unbroken 68 for the fifth wicket to strengthen their side's position.
Surrey waited eight overs before taking the second new ball and Tremlett thought he had broken through when du Toit, on 61, slashed outside off stump but Batty spilled a difficult chance diving high to his right at first slip. Du Toit, having already made three half-centuries this season, was on course for his first hundred of the summer by the close on 72 not out, having faced 124 balls so far with seven fours and a straight six off Batty.