Wounded Surrey lay platform for victory push

Surrey 323 (Davies 82, Harinath 73, Curran 52, Ball 4-85) and 244 for 5 (Harinath 83) lead Nottinghamshire 182 (Batty 4-23) by 385 runs

Everything about Surrey oozes a Division One club. The Kia Oval is a magnificent modern cricket ground, constantly being refined, and has a guarantee of Test matches the envy of every other international ground bar Lord's. Nowhere else consistently gets as many through the gates at T20 games: over 100,000 every summer. The club's annual turnover is £25 million, seven times that of the poorest of the 18 first-class counties.

All that is missing, then, is results. Not since Graham Thorpe retired, 11 years ago, has a home-grown Surrey cricketer played for England in a Test. All the while, Surrey have spent more years than they would care to reflect - five of the past seven seasons - in Division Two: less the Manchester United of cricket, as they once liked to consider themselves, than the Queens Park Rangers, floundering despite huge spending.

Last season Surrey waltzed to promotion, and so returned to what they would consider their rightful place. But their return to Division One has been grim: three draws and four defeats in their opening seven games. This is not quite an accurate reflection of how Surrey have played: they almost clinched a come-from-behind win at Trent Bridge, endured the agony of a one-wicket loss at Taunton and have suffered rain at inopportune times.

Injuries have not helped, either: Mark Footitt and Matt Dunn are still out, and Stuart Meaker. Zafar Ansari and Ravi Rampaul have also been detained at various times. Missing from this game are Jason Roy, on England white ball duty, and Sam Curran, encumbered by A level examinations. Yet all these caveats cannot disguise the underlying truth: that a club with Surrey's wealth ought to be performing better.

Still, this might just have been their best day of the season. The washout of two-thirds of the second day had threatened to consign Surrey to another draw, already of limited value in their attempt to salvage their Division One place for next year. Not, though, with the side in such zesty mood, evident from Rampaul's in-jagger to snare Brendan Taylor in the third over of the day.

Deep into his 39th year, Gareth Batty might just be in the form of his life. In Surrey's agonising defeat at Taunton, their last first-class game, he took ten wickets in the game. Here he added four more, perfectly exemplifying the subtle chicanery of the orthodox offspinner. A slightly quicker delivery turned and bounced just enough to defeat Michael Lumb's attempted cut, a particular source of satisfaction, and then the tail heaved limply to fielders, complicit in their own downfalls.

Yet, for all Batty's skill, the most memorable dismissal was that of Samit Patel. Lumb pushed Batty into the offside, and called for a sharp single. Patel was slow replying, and stood motionless and aggrieved while Lumb ran past him, to consign him to his fate while the bails were removed at the striker's end: run out by virtually the entire length of the pitch. For comic value it fell some way short of Patel's fall onto his own backside three years ago against Derbyshire, but for his team the consequences were stark.

Surrey had mustered a lead of 141, and a position that could have been designed for a return of the Surrey strut. But the ostentatious care with which the openers approached their task - the first 20 overs brought only 41 runs - betrayed the anxiety that has engulfed the club in their underwhelming start. At times more entertainment was to be found in the rooms at The Oval, which were staging trials for the BBC's talent show The Voice, than in some funereal batting.

But Surrey's supporters had reason to find their own voices in the evening session. Kumar Sangakkara's exquisite driving imbued the innings with impetus; he forged a 92-run stand with Arun Harinath, who grew increasingly assertive, before, in characteristically unselfish style, getting a leading edge for 83 as Surrey moved towards a declaration.

After a rather painstaking effort from Gary Wilson - some members even ironically applauded him getting off the mark, from his 13th delivery - Steven Davies' arrival was accompanied by the evening sun and the first hints of violence: he smeared his fourth delivery, off Matthew Carter, for an emphatic six over midwicket.

In the Adam Hollioake years, such intent would surely have come before the end of the evening, giving Surrey a few overs to prey on any raw Nottinghamshire wounds. Still, with a hearty lead, now worth 385, and a pitch showing glimpses of deterioration, Surrey look well-equipped to prise out ten wickets tomorrow, and so regain a little of their lost swagger.