Derbyshire v Surrey, Derby, 3rd day June 17, 2014

Batty takes four as Surrey find groove

Ryan Bailey at Derby

Derbyshire 153 (Curran 5-51) and 288 (Wainwright 56, Batty 4-69, Ansari 4-96) lead Surrey 421 (Davies 124, Ansari 105, Foottit 4-63) by 20 runs

After a laboured start to the season, Surrey are beginning to click into gear just at the right time. It remains premature to propound the idea of a promotion assault - there is still significant ground to be made up yet - but all the pieces are undoubtedly coming together.

A combination of a Gloucestershire rear-guard and a sterile surface derailed what could have been a second Championship win of the campaign last week but there should be no such hindrances this time around; Surrey require just 21 runs to win with ten wickets in hand on the final day.

From the moment the visitors had forged a 269-run first innings advantage early on Tuesday morning, this game took an inevitable path. Scott Elstone and then David Wainwright produced late resistance to delay the inexorable and although it would be stretching it to say that Surrey will be denied the points again, they were left frustrated that their toil didn't yield victory within three days: it wouldn't have flattered the visitors in the slightest.

If, the formalities are completed tomorrow, as expected, it would be Surrey's first victory away from home in four-day cricket since September 2011. Once the home sides' batting defects were ruthlessly exposed on the first day, Surrey assumed consummate control of proceedings and their stranglehold hasn't waned throughout. Conversely, it imparts Derbyshire's woes.

Graeme Welch's side, who only last year were in the top tier, remain lingering towards the foot of Division Two. Last week's win at Grace Road has proved only to be a momentary respite from their struggles. Only a defiant innings from Elstone and No. 8 Wainwright, in the face of adversity, prevented defeat without even a flicker of opposition as every passing wicket prompted clumps of locals to head home to avoid the rush-hour traffic.

While Derbyshire were incompetent, Surrey were clinically efficient. A healthy lead helped but Gary Wilson, the Surrey captain, maintained an attacking field throughout, ensuring there was no respite for the beleaguered batsmen. In the end, tenacity and perseverance bore fruit.

That said, Derbyshire showed very little stomach for the fight and the necessary resolve to occupy the crease on a track that contained very few, if any, demons. Both openers - in putting on 62 for the first wicket - demonstrated such an affirmation to be true but once Stephen Moore got a thin edge off Zafar Ansari - one of four wickets to follow up his first innings century - the over before lunch, the procession began.

The Derby octogenarians aren't known for their optimism - after all they've had to endure years of hardship - so it was of little surprise to overhear confab about whether they'd be afforded the luxury of being home in time for tea. For those that preserved, their side managed to stay afloat, only just.

After an afternoon session that broke the back of any Derbyshire resistance, the visitors utilised the extra half an hour in search of the two remaining wickets. Wainwright's craftiness - he scored a century against Leicestershire last week - slowly ate into the deficit and together with 19-year-old Tom Taylor, the pair managed to put on 39 for the tenth wicket. It was too little too late.

The incessant pressure manufactured by Ansari and Gareth Batty, reeling over-after-over in tandem as the ball wore old proved too much for batsmen completely devoid of form and confidence. That they remained in the dressing room - doors shut - for ninety minutes after the close told its own story.

They had some bad luck as well. Peter Borrington, who had played nicely for 38, prodded forward at one from Batty that turned and bounced and as the ball spun back before he could intervene, the bail had been dislodged. It summed up Derbyshire's plight.

But there was no element of misfortune about the way the middle-order bestowed their wickets. Both Wayne Madsen and Marcus North, when they were so desperately required to earn their buck, fell in quick succession to the spinning duo. North, having launched Ansari over midwicket for six, rashly drove expansively next ball but left a gaping hole between bat and pad; Madsen's dismissal was equally as tame, popping Batty to the man under the helmet on the off-side.

Elstone showed all his tenacity and propensity in a punchy innings before a lack of concentration some him miss a straight one from Batty a couple short of a much deserved fifty. Having just signed a new contract at the club, Elstone is proving to be a shrewd acquisition but his toil was one of very few positives to take for the hosts on a pitch that, if they had managed to wrestle a lead of 100, they would have been in with a decent shout.

Chris Tremlett demonstrated that it remained true and that clean striking was evidently possible. He continued where he had left off on Monday with a couple of lofty blows off the bustling Taylor as Surrey's lead stretched past the 250 mark before Jade Dernbach's leg stump was sent cartwheeling by Footitt; his fourth of the innings. He'll need to repeat those exploits and then some on Wednesday.