Hampshire52 for 3 trail Surrey 211 (Dawson 4-30, Edwards 4-38) by 159 runs
Posters in tube stations are sometimes weirdly prescient. "We know what we are, but know not what we may be," asserts a current advert for the Globe's production of Hamlet, and Ophelia's words seemed curiously apt on Friday morning as one exchanged a fetid underland for Kennington's rather cleaner air. On Thursday the uncertain prospect of hundred-ball cricket in 2020 had been all our rage. Hours later spectators at The Oval - around three thousand of them this Friday stolen from June - watched in perfect absorption, though nothing like content, as Surrey were dismissed for 211 by Hampshire, whose batsmen reached 52 for the loss of both openers and nightwatchman Chris Wood by the close.
The Saturday papers may still label it "the visitors' day" but such an outcome had not seemed at all likely until Surrey squandered their last six wickets for 24 runs immediately after tea. Four of those wickets fell to Liam Dawson in successive overs from the Vauxhall End but the collapse had begun with the first ball of the session when Ollie Pope played across the line to Kyle Abbott and was sent on his way by Steve O'Shaughnessy, the batsman dismissed by a delivery whose only virtue was its straightness. Pope had played well for his 34 but was plainly not infallible, which some may see as letting the side down.
But the youngster's misjudgement was quickly followed by more grievous errors, some of them committed by cricketers who know better. Sam Curran drove Dawson to Wood at mid-off and Rikki Clarke brainlessly lifted the same bowler to the same safe hands at long on. In between these lapses, Ben Foakes, who had stroked the ball with polished ease for 46, was leg before to a quicker arm-ball. Dawson and Fidel Edwards disposed of the tail and the home side's profligacy was complete.
The extent of the wastefulness became plain when one recalled that four of Surrey's top six had done the groundwork necessary for a major innings and had effected a recovery from a poor start. For in the first six overs of the day the home side had lost Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick, both of whom were pinned leg before by Fidel Edwards' inswingers. Rory Burns and Dean Elgar viewed those early wickets quite properly as proof that caution was needed and the pair batted with Puritan restraint in taking their side to 83 for 2 at lunch.
In the interval hundreds of spectators wandered out and inspected the wicket. They did so in the manner of benevolent landlords returning to demesnes they had not visited for some time.
Surrey's third-wicket pair maintained their vigilance into the afternoon session. Then Burns was dismissed for 46 when an authentic glance off Edwards was neatly pouched by Sam Northeast who had been precisely placed at leg slip. It was a fine piece of cricketing craft, much finer at any rate than the inelegant and uncharacteristic slash which Elgar played to a wide ball from Wood, the edge being taken by McManus. That wicket left Surrey on 114 for 4 but Foakes and Pope's 73-run stand repaired the innings until Dawson recalled the heyday of Peter Sainsbury and began to wheel away after tea.
One's mind turned briefly from a fine slow left-armer to the more immediate changes about to affect the English game. In two years' time we shall be assailed by hundreds of balls and who knows what the penalty may be for non-compliance with the ECB's trend hounds? "They say the owl was a baker's daughter" muses Ophelia as she reflects upon the penalties for disobedience.
For the moment, though, let us enjoy the County Championship. For on the day Surrey banned single-use plastics from The Oval, cricket's older format again proved yet again that it should not be carelessly discarded. May your God be at your table this season but you had better make haste. Hampshire's cricketers are already tucking in.