Yorkshire 58 for 1 trail Surrey 313 (Foakes 62, Stoneman 61, Smith 56, Patterson 5-81) by 255 runs
Barring the sort of collapses that would do credit to a hypersensitive drama queen this match will end in a draw on Thursday. The loss of the whole of the first day already meant that neither of these two fine teams was likely to force a win on a pitch lacking obvious devil but the rain which prevented any cricket being played after lunch on this third afternoon put the tin lid on the matter. Thursday's cricket will be a matter of bonus points, averages and professional pride.
Those latter considerations are not to be disdained. Will Fraine is playing his second Championship match for Yorkshire. In his first, against Essex last week, he made 39 and 0. A few wickets for Morne Morkel tomorrow will not make a whit of difference to his reputation but an unbeaten 70 or so against this Surrey attack tomorrow could make all the difference to Fraine's career. It would also offer Andrew Gale another option as he ponders team selection over the rest of the season. The Yorkshire opener was unbeaten on 17 when the umpires came off for bad light at one o'clock on Wednesday and heavy showers prevented the players returning. "The rain for Fraine ruled out a chance of gain," as Eliza Doolittle might have put it.
And it could be worse. As Guildford's weather organised itself into unrelieved gloom in the early afternoon, one's thoughts turned to the good burghers of Welbeck Colliery CC, whose first ever Championship match was confined to just Sunday's play. The June monsoon did for the rest of it. Six months planning for six hours' cricket. Thank you, and good night miners everywhere. The good folk who are organising next week's matches at York and Tunbridge Wells must have their manicured fingers and pedicured toes crossed.
Spectators at Woodbridge Road, meanwhile, were left to make the most of not too much. They had seen Steve Patterson collect the eighth five-wicket haul of his first-class career when Jordan Clark hoisted a skier to the safe hands of substitute fielder Matt Fisher at mid-on. Then they had watched as Adam Lyth hit four of the sweeter boundaries of the season in his innings of 30. That delight was ended when Will Jacks swooped to take a low catch in the gully off Rikki Clarke. Fifteen minutes later we were off for the day.
But yes, it could be very much worse. Perhaps 30 years ago in the not-so-golden age of three-day cricket these sides might have been tempted to concoct a result with the aid of a couple of declarations and an hour's nonsense.
The morning's play, you see, was properly contested, but as we watched the tussle for advantage in a match seemingly reduced to three full days some minds drifted back to the 1980s when all games were of that length and pitches were covered. If the wicket offered a fair contest between bat and ball, everything was fine. But all too often teams would contest the first two days or so before agreeing a target which rendered the fourth innings of the game a bastardised version of over-limit cricket, albeit one in which the draw was an option. To achieve this goal, runs were given away by non-bowlers to embarrassed batsmen. All too often the first session of the third day was reduced to a cheap slog which annoyed the statisticians, insulted the spectators and demeaned the players.
These matches belonged not to a golden era of a treasured memory but an age that at times was scarcely pewter. The gradual covering of pitches, which had begun in the 1970s, had both diminished the art of batting and sounded the passing bell for the three-day game; only when four-day cricket became the norm in 1993 did the wretched buffet bowling more or less disappear. You still see it occasionally towards the end of the season but generally the best team wins a four-day game of cricket.
This match, though, will not merit even 400 words in next year's Wisden. At 3.15 in the afternoon the scoreboard was turned off and half an hour later play was abandoned. The PA announcer told everyone in the ground the news, although the only folk he was informing were the players and media, who knew already. Then again, perhaps we should not be surprised by such surreal communications. After all, Lewis Carroll is buried in Guildford. Wonderland, indeed.
Neither of the two other Division One matches scheduled had a ball bowled on Wednesday. Nottinghamshire drew with Hampshire after rain washed out all but the opening day's play, while Kent's match against Somerset was washed out for a second day running on day three.