Surrey 182 for 5 (Davies 67, Ansari 50*) v Glamorgan
Graeme Smith talks to Mark Butcher about Surrey's future: watch out for the full interview
The rain delayed the start by half an hour, the crowds dribbled in and seeped out with each enforced delay, as a consistent wind streamed through The Oval from the Archbishop Tenison's School to the gas cylinders. In the pavilion, Premier League football jostled for chat and screen space. It was the world's way of tapping you on the shoulder and gesturing to its watch, as if to say, "Bit early for this, isn't it?"
County cricket in April always elicits a strange yet comfortable feeling, like drinking tea out of a glass. When Mark Wallace called the coin toss correct in his 200th consecutive County Championship, he inevitably stuck Surrey in for their first Division Two hit since promotion in 2011.
Kevin Pietersen was a notable spectator with his son Dylan, prior to setting off for the IPL in the next 24 hours, and he would have approved of Graeme Smith's prompt start. Utilising the shorter boundary towards the east, he took 16 off the third over, as Michael Hogan strayed onto his pads, before correcting and finding himself edged through the slips. But from that point, early season service resumed.
The ball began seaming off the green tinges, as Smith stepped back and Rory Burns struggled to remind himself that he was not supposed to have it his way, just yet anyway. Much of his frustration came at the hands of Graham Wagg, who nagged at his off-stump line with the persistence of an unruly child at the sleeve of his parent in a toy store.
Burns eventually fell to Jim Allenby, trying to work a straight ball for runs on the leg side, as Glamorgan choked the hosts, taking three wickets for no runs in the space of 13 balls. Dom Sibley became Allenby's second scalp for an over-long duck, before Wagg got one to go into Smith and trap him in front and picked up the "big name" scalp he deserved after an impressive opening eight over spell.
With the score at 34-3, Zafar Ansari and Steven Davies dug deep and put on 122 for the fourth wicket, in exactly 50 overs. Both were very different innings.
Davies' was a one-man show of man's struggles to suppress his urges. Rarely will you see a batsman embark on a rescue mission and throw out as many square drives, wristy whips through the leg-side and airy wafts outside off stump. His talent is undeniable, but so often his application is found wanting - a reason why few Surrey regulars stop short of endorsing him for higher honours in whites. Like using a Faberge egg for a doorstop, his innings today was effective luxury.
He left and defended well, while making sure the scoreboard kept ticking along. Halfway through the middle session, there was a typical lull that takes place at this time of year, where bowlers expect wickets simply by landing the ball on the strip, and batsmen avoid failure by offering nothing but defiance. Davies allayed that funk with a handful of wild misses, before flicking the ball to the leg-side boundary - catching a full ball on the half-volley, with his weight pressed forward, his back foot in the air and a flourishing of the bottom hand. It was picture perfect and was very close to being caught by the man diving at mid-wicket. It was Davies in a nutshell.
Ansari on the other hand has previous for stodge. In 2012, he opened the batting in Surrey's second innings at Edgbaston against Warwickshire, batting for the entirety of the final day to save the game, finishing unperturbed on 83. Today's 183-ball vigil lacked aesthetics and should have been curtailed after 45, with nine runs to his name - Wallace spurning a caught behind in the 30th over.
But Ansari trudged on and was even allowed the chance to reach a fifth first class half century before the umpires trudged off, eventually for the day, because of bad light.