Surrey 324 for 6 v Glamorgan
On a day when chief executive Chris Adams held an impromptu meeting with several dozen disgruntled members during a rain break, it would have heartened the Surrey faithful that two of their younger players held centre court at an overcast Oval. There would also have been more than a smirk or two in the pavilion when Kevin Pietersen, a far from popular short-term signing, made a second-ball duck on his first-class debut for the county. But despite two wobbles Surrey turned in a more solid display to reach 324 for 6 by the close against promotion-chasing Glamorgan.
The first session, split by a two-hour delay caused by a heavy downpour, was dominated by Jason Roy, a 20-year-old from Millfield School who is rapidly making a name for himself as a hard-hitting opener. He played with assurance and unleashed some rasping off-side shots, mainly off the front foot, on his way to 69 off 72 balls in only his second first-class match. On his debut he scored 76, and there have also been some blitzes in limited-overs outings.
Roy was joined by Mark Ramprakash after teenager Tom Lancefield poked loosely at a ball he should have left. Ramprakash, who turned 41 on Sunday, is more than twice Roy's age and it takes him a little while to get things underway these days, but after a subdued hour he suddenly exploded into life with some corking drives.
As Surrey threatened to take full control, the introduction of spin in the form of Dean Cosker changed the flow of the game. In his first over Roy skipped down the track and slammed him back over his head, but trying to repeat the shot in the next over he was bowled.
Pietersen's problems against slow left-armers are well documented, and even had Cosker not been on when he strode to the middle he would surely have been summoned straight away. Pietersen pushed forward but not far enough to convince umpire Nick Cook and after a long deliberation was adjudged leg before. Soon after Ramprakash, who was looking set for one of his long stays, was bowled by one from Cosker that turned across him. From 119 for 1 Surrey had slid to 136 for 4 and the muttering had resumed.
Rory Hamilton-Brown has had a tough season both personally and as captain. But he set out to attack from the off, and did so with a string of powerful drives - two for six over long-off into the Barrington Stand - and pulls. Racing along at more than a run-a-ball he treated a string of bowling changes with equal contempt, his six sixes coming off five different victims. With a far-from-pedestrian Gary Wilson he added 127 in just 21 overs for the fifth wicket.
Mark Cosgrove finally removed Wilson for 39 and four balls later the reintroduction of Cosker did for Hamilton-Brown as on 96 he charged down the track to his first delivery, missed and was left high and dry as Mark Wallace completed a simple stumping.
As the low, grey clouds rumbled round The Oval Surrey again dug in, as Chris Schofield and Gareth Batty added 61 at a far more sedate rate to see them through to the close without any alarms. It will take many more battling performances like this to placate the members but it is a step in the right direction.