9th Match, The Oval, April 12 - 15, 2024, County Championship Division One
285 & 351
(T:209) 428 & 123/5

Match drawn


Surrey threaten unthinkable before drawing with Somerset

Wild conclusion out of kilter with quiet final day in which Lewis Gregory almost saved the game

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Lewis Gregory swings one leg side, Surrey vs Somerset, Vitality County Championship, Division One, Kia Oval, April 12, 2024

Lewis Gregory almost single-handedly saved the game  •  Getty Images for Surrey CCC

Surrey 428 (Sibley 100, Burns 75, Foakes 57, Smith 51, Aldridge 5-64) and 123 for 5 (Lawrence 53*) drew with Somerset 285 (Lammonby 100, Renshaw 87, Gregory 50, Steel 4-50) and 351 (Gregory 80, Goldsworthy 58, Overton 52*, Lammonby 51, Steel 5-96)
There are nearly 5,000 miles between The Oval and the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium and while one venue was packed out on Monday evening, the other was almost empty. But for eight overs, Surrey kept pace with the record-breaking scoring rates posted by Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bengaluru, giving Somerset a real scare before this match petered out into a draw.
After the first hour was wiped out by rain, Somerset's lower order batted for 55.4 overs on the final day to leave Surrey chasing an unlikely 209 inside 19 overs. They threatened to pull off the unthinkable: Dan Lawrence and Jamie Smith were promoted to open and added 90 off the first eight overs, plundering six fours and three sixes despite Lewis Gregory stationing nine fielders on the boundary.
Smith, who played the shot of the day when he swung Craig Overton into the third tier of the Micky Stewart Pavilion, holed out to Matt Renshaw at long-on off Gregory's first ball but Ollie Pope seemed an ideal partner for Lawrence, slicing Kasey Aldridge over the short point boundary for six even as one hand came off the bat.
But after Pope lost his leg stump looking to slash Aldridge away through the off side once more, Surrey lost their bearings: Jamie Overton miscued a return catch to Aldridge, Rory Burns picked out deep square leg and Dom Sibley top-edged an attempted pull back to Gregory. Lawrence reached a 30-ball 50 but couldn't keep the strike, and the players shook hands with five overs unbowled.
The wild conclusion was out of kilter with a quiet final day, in which Gregory had almost single-handedly saved the game with his second half-century of the match, his second as permanent captain. Somerset's overnight lead was just 61 with four wickets in hand, but stands of 94 and 89 with Aldridge and Overton respectively took time out of the game.
It seemed clear that the second new ball would be the missing ingredient for Surrey after the first one had lost its spice. Kemar Roach broke through shortly after lunch, in the fifth over after the changeover, with a beauty that took Aldridge's outside edge on its way through to Ben Foakes.
Surrey used their spinners from one end and their seamers at the other, trying to create chances and breathe some life into the game on a bitterly cold afternoon. They appealed desperately for leg-before wicket and caught-behind chances, constantly creating half-chances without a breakthrough.
But Gregory batted on, surviving a chance on 69 when Roach dropped a skier at deep square leg off Gus Atkinson's bowling. He eventually fell for 80 to Cameron Steel's legspin, slapping to backward point, and Steel completed his second five-wicket haul of the season when Migael Pretorius skied him to cover and Shoaib Bashir was pinned lbw.
Steel is an unlikely man to be leading the wicket-taking charts in Division One after two rounds, with his 14 wickets already more than double the number he managed last year (six). But he has worked hard on his bowling through the winter, training with New South Wales and Sydney Sixers in Australia, and has enjoyed the opportunity to be Surrey's main spinner with Will Jacks at the IPL.
Somerset's first-day collapse of 7 for 20 left them behind for the rest of the game, but their coach, Jason Kerr, said he was pleased with the "resilience" that his side showed. "Apart from about 40 minutes on day one, we have been outstanding in this game, particularly on days two and three with the ball and then today, the resilience that the guys demonstrated.
"You thought we were getting to the point where we were shutting the game down - but then we gave them a sniff. But similarly, the way Lewis and Kasey bowled in particular to shut the game down… I think the draw was a fair result. Lewis has been outstanding. He's in great form, and leading brilliantly. Long may it continue."
Surrey were disappointed not to get over the line, but will welcome Dan Worrall back into their squad when they face Kent on Friday and their seamers will be pleased to have a Dukes ball back in their hands. "It was a tough slog for us," Steel said. "All credit to them for the way they played on a good pitch."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98