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RESULT
The Oval, May 11 - 14, 2023, County Championship Division One
209 & 240
(T:70) 380 & 73/1

Surrey won by 9 wickets

Player Of The Match
97
jamie-smith
Report

England's past and future combine as Burns, Smith given Surrey control over Middlesex

Surrey captain and rising star seize initiative on truncated second day at the Kia Oval

Rory Burns goes through his pre-innings routine, Surrey vs Middlesex, Kia Oval, County Championship, 2nd day, May 12, 2023

Rory Burns' 88 pushed Surrey towards an inevitable lead  •  Getty Images

Surrey 190 for 3 (Burns 88, Smith 55*, Higgins 2-49) trail Middlesex 209 (Robson 76, Malan 66, Worrall 5-48) by 19 runs
The County Championship does old stagers and new blood better than most. But it also has a propensity for throwing together the recent past and not-too-distant future.
Friday at the Kia Oval was a very real example of that latter jam. Even with just 42 overs of play - 1.5 in the morning, the rest from 1.50pm onwards - Surrey marched towards what could well be a sizeable first-innings lead thanks to 88 from Rory Burns and who knows what's to come from Jamie Smith.
Bad light stopped play with Middlesex's first-innings score of 209 just 19 away, and it looked for all the world like Smith would tick that off on his own in a handful of overs. His half-century had been brought up from 82 deliveries, building on the work of his captain's milestone from a quicker 68 earlier on.
The pair came together in the 11th over of the day. Dom Sibley had advanced in defence to edge Ethan Bamber through to Stephen Eskinazi at first slip, ending the opening stand on 49, before Ryan Higgins found some unexpected bounce to snare the glove of Ryan Patel through to Max Holden at second. At 62 for 2, rebuilding was very much on the cards. And rebuild they did.
You can tell by those fifty stats who was the more fluent of the two. Not the one who bagged the fastest first-class century for England Lions against Sri Lanka A back in February. Not the 22-year-old expected to carry on the nation's proud history of duelling keeper-batters with Durham's Ollie Robinson once the current high-calibre squabblers move on. That being said, the man in possession - Ben Foakes - is only 30 years of age, and is currently going soundly into day three on 22 not out.
Just as the hype around Smith is warranted, it is no great statement to say Burns is one of the more unlucky openers England have cast aside. Middlesex's own pair of Sam Robson and Mark Stoneman have decent cases to put forward themselves.
Of course, 32 Tests is a lot, more than the 18 of Robson and Stomenan combined, and an average of 30.32 is both modest and, at the same time, well, you'd take that from one end right now, wouldn't you? Beyond the field, there was a sense Burns was reticent to establish himself as part of the leadership group within the national set-up. There was a stage when those further up the chain regarded at him as a future captain. By the time the 2021-22 Ashes had been lost, his card had been marked for worse.
Unorthodox without being regularly effective. Headstrong and yet surprisingly aloof. Good, but not good enough. Those at Surrey will rightly scoff at all that. And those at the Kia Oval on Friday - diehards through the cold and rain, and thus maybe not totally neutral - will tell you of a knock from Burns that will rival his best non-hundreds. Those idiosyncrasies remain albeit slightly smoother - he's refused to say what exactly has been honed after revealing work had been done over the winter - allowing Burns to score with ease and lead his team into the light under overcast skies.
The seventh boundary that took him to a second half-century of the summer was in itself an anomaly. A skewed leading edge through cover was meant for the leg side, at odds with previous firm-base flicks. He took Surrey into three figures with a pull for six off his opposing captain, Toby Roland-Jones, showing fast hands through the ball to lift it into the white seats of the Peter May Stand. The shorter boundary, sure, but a good hit all the same.
That he didn't get to a first century of the season was a blight on a fine knock that did at least take him past 10,000 first-class runs for his county. Like Sibley, he was keen on advancing down the track to stop bowlers settling into their usual clusters, only for some nice away shape from Higgins to clip the edge through to John Simpson.
It felt like Higgins had made amends after putting down Smith in the previous over off Roland-Jones. The mistake at backward point came with Smith on 26. Now, with the key scorer in a stand of 75 sent packing, there was reason to believe more wickets would follow to expose a long Surrey tail.
If Middlesex weren't sure how bad they had it by letting Smith off the hook, it was confirmed two-fold with the final ball of the day when an edge from Smith was dropped badly by Eskinazi at first slip. Bamber had bowled valiantly for it, choking the batter's hands for the most part while Simpson kept the feet honest by standing up to the stumps.
With that the umpires converged and decided the floodlights were too involved. Off Smith walked of his own accord, 55 not out in his back pocket and room to manoeuvre. His shot-making has been crisp, his treatment of Higgins - taken for six of Smith's 10 boundaries, including the one six - indicative of a player looking to push back against one who looked settled in his groove to everyone else.
That Smith was fortunate to make it to stumps will not matter come Saturday, with a fairer forecast and better conditions to really push the accelerator. With Foakes looking as confident as ever, Will Jacks to come, followed by allrounders who like to shift the game along in Jordan Clark and Sean Abbott, the Division One leaders and defending champions are well set. Their aim will be clear - to take this match out of Middlesex's wasteful hands.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo