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Surrey dominate as green Trent Bridge pitch backfires

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Clark's epic Roses hat-trick stuns Yorkshire (2:03)

Catch up with the latest from the County Championship, as Lancashire's Jordan Clark takes a hat-trick to remember in the Roses match (2:03)

Surrey 223 for 1 (Burns 97*, Stoneman 93) lead Nottinghamshire 210 (Morkel 4-60) by 13 runs
Scorecard

Your front lawn may be the colour of straw but the well-watered cricket fields of England remain a luxuriant green, even down to the pitch for the clash of first and second in the Championship.

It was perhaps not what you would expect to see in the third week of July in a summer as scorching as this one but from Nottinghamshire's standpoint there was logic behind their instructions to the groundsman. No team had accrued more bowling points in the first eight matches of the season and with Stuart Broad and Jake Ball available it was clear where they considered their best chance of winning lay.

There were two or three flies in the ointment, however; bluebottle-sized ones, in fact. First of all, Steve Birks's verdant strip is as close to the boundary on the Bridgford Road side of the ground as any of Trent Bridge's Championship pitches, so close that a judiciously placed nudge brings four.

Second, this Surrey side contains the two most prolific batsmen in the top division so far in Rory Burns and Ollie Pope.

And third, with the kind of early cloud cover that has not been seen for several weeks, there was never much likelihood that Surrey would not bowl first, which meant that a Nottinghamshire batting line-up short on experience would be exposed to Jade Dernbach, Sam Curran, Morne Morkel and Rikki Clarke in the most testing atmospheric conditions, while Broad, back in action after recovering from a sore ankle, could only preen his new haircut in the dressing room. As calculated risks go, this one seemed to have a decent chance of backfiring spectacularly.

And so it did. Steven Mullaney, the Nottinghamshire captain, was out to the second ball of the day, edging Dernbach into the wicketkeeper's gloves, and even a solitary batting point would have eluded his side but for an unlikely partnership for the 10th wicket that saw Jake Ball smash Morkel over cover for six and Harry Gurney, a number eleven in cricket's best traditions, carve out an inventive unbeaten 29, the second biggest score of his career.

Surrey had 42 overs to negotiate themselves but by the time they began the clouds were clearing and the menace the Surrey quartet had been able to generate eluded Broad and company. The excellent Burns, now past 850 runs for the season, needs three more for a third century. Mark Stoneman, at last looking more like the player who scored almost 1,500 runs last summer, emerged from his troubles with a fine 86, taking him past 10,000 in his career. Unless something very different happens on day two, Surrey can already anticipate a handsome lead.

The first five Nottinghamshire wickets fell before lunch, the other five before tea as the ball jagged around. At times it was a struggle even to lay bat on ball, let alone take advantage of the short route to the fence. Of the first six wickets, three were caught at gully, one at slip and one by the wicketkeeper; the other was to an inswinger from Curran that trapped Samit Patel on the back foot.

Surrey's catching, for the most part, was outstanding. Rikki Clarke, apart from bowling superbly, took one over his head at slip that required an exceptional leap even for a man of his 6ft 4ins; Ryan Patel, on briefly as substitute fielder at gully with Pope needing attention after catching Will Fraine a couple of balls earlier, held a blinder, diving to his right, to dismiss Jake Libby, as Morkel claimed two of his four wickets in three deliveries. Fraine, the former Durham MCCU batsman, acquitted himself pretty well in the circumstances, thrown in for his Championship debut with Chris Nash still sidelined and Ross Taylor's stint here finished.

Some 22 points separated these sides at the start of play. Right now the gap feels wider than that and Surrey might well be about to put themselves out of reach.