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Have Batty and Foakes turned Surrey's season?

Hampshire 73 for 2 trail Surrey 637 for 7 dec (Foakes 141*, Batty 110*, Finch 86) by 564 runs
Scorecard

"Is that all from one innings?" asked a member of the catering staff. You didn't need to know the game to empathise with Hampshire's toil. Surrey declared but it may as well have been a mercy ruling that ended their first innings on 637 for 7. Six hundred and thirty seven.

All pros know the pain of relentless grind in the dirt. It will take more than a shower and a night's sleep to shake off these 163 overs.

A record eighth wicket partnership for Surrey, against any opposition, saw Ben Foakes and Gareth Batty put on 222 and take a gargantuan lead in this basement battle at the Ageas Bowl.

It was the timing of this partnership that was crucial - just when the early wickets of Steven Davies and Sam Curran looked like threatening Surrey's good work from day one. So good was the recovery that Foakes and Batty notched centuries in the process.

It was something of a tactical union: Foakes, able to play his natural game, accompanied Batty steadily before the Surrey skipper was comfortable enough to swipe boundaries of his own. There was talk of a dash to 400 to take full batting points only for the pair to settle for the four they had, knowing that risky play would not only lead to a wicket and a second Hampshire bowling point, but also rob them of the chance to put on an insurmountable first innings score. The logic was simple: the pitch is very good for batting so even if Hampshire make their way to 350 or 400, the follow-on option would still be available to Surrey.

Further scheming came just after tea, when Batty and Foakes came out for 10 minutes, "to piss their batters off". Taking an extra three overs, in which time Sean Ervine dropped Batty at first slip off Brad Wheal, Surrey declared, giving Hampshire's openers 10-minutes rather than the 20 at tea to compose themselves. Within 3.2 overs of the hosts' first innings, they were five for two: Will Smith playing on his first ball and Jimmy Adams flicking to square leg, as Mark Footitt put the new ball to work with the quickest spell of the match.

At a time when questions are being asked of Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps and the national side's general approach to keeping, Foakes' first hundred of the season could not have been better timed. He had only passed fifty on one previous occasion before finishing up on a career best 141 not out. Naturally, he hopes he kicks on, but this was also the first innings of note he has played at No. 7 - the position he is most likely to occupy if opportunities further up the ladder present themselves.

With that position comes the responsibility of batting with the tail - something which he is not used to, having spent most of his time at No. 4 or 5. It is a role Foakes knows he needs to work on.

"When you bat at four or five, that sort of area, you're batting with 'batters' for longer, so you just carry on and take what comes your way," he said at stumps. "But when you have, say, 10 or 11 come in and you have to up the scoring with the field set back, it's about being smart."

"This is the first time I've done it. When we have struggled a bit I have found it quite tough. When you are seven, eight down - and it can happen quickly - I have got out trying to change my game when I've been on 20. It's been a bit frustrating but I've got to learn to do that better. I've got to bat well with the tail and go up a gear."

He outlined improvement in this role as a goal for the rest of the season. To be fair to him, while his first 53 runs took 102 balls, the next 88 came off 79. The freedom that Batty afforded him, too, meant they rattled on together at over five runs an over.

"He enjoys batting, even though he won't tell you," said Foakes with a wry smile, surprised that this was Batty's first hundred for Surrey. It was his first in a decade in fact, since a 112 for Worcestershire against Essex in June 2006. To say it was something he had been anticipating for some time would be overselling it a touch.

When he reached the milestone, off 132 balls, he simply raised his bat to the away dressing room and went on with his innings. That understated celebration probably came as no surprise to those congregated on the balcony.

That Hampshire were able to keep their spirits up in the late afternoon may be as much down to team spirit as a mild form of Stockholm Syndrome. Cheers went up around the field as Mason Crane completed his 50th over. Sean Ervine walked over to him and held his arm aloft, before he indulged and raised his caps to all parts of the ground. That noise was only matched by the applause for him when he left the field for a well earned break.

He turned his arm over for 308 times across the five and a bit sessions, conceding just under four an over for the most part, only for some tired deliveries at the end to leave him with an economy rate of 4.11. The wicket of Curran, turning through the left-handers gate, past leg stump and into the gloves of Lewis McManus for a stumping, pretty much summed up his impressive control.

A couple of things did fall Hampshire's way by the close. Ryan Mclaren, promoted to number four, was dropped twice by Aaron Finch (first slip) and Rory Burns (third) before he had made it to 10. McLaren used the life to accompany Tom Alsop through to stumps. Even after today, there is still a lot of graft left in this match.