Burnham scores maiden century amid benign bowling conditions

Burnham scores maiden century amid benign bowling conditions

Surrey 457 (Harinath 96; Stokes 4-117) trail Durham 543/7 (Burnham 135, Borthwick 77, Collingwood 75*) by 86 runs

Thirteen proved anything but unlucky for Durham’s Jack Burnham on day three of their Championship fixture with Surrey at the Oval.

That’s the number of first-class innings it’s taken the 19-year-old to chalk up his maiden hundred at this level on a day when he put higher profile England men past and present into the shade.

The hometown boy served notice of his potential with three centuries for England’s U19s at the World Cup on the sub-continent over the winter, but this effort on albeit an Oval pitch more benign than usual will enhance his burgeoning reputation another notch or two.

This was a chanceless effort from a player, buoyed by 61 against Middlesex at Chester-le-Street last week, who was strong especially off the front foot and whose driving, straight and through cover, was signalled first by a confident stride followed closely by a full swing of what looked a heavy bat.

He was content for much of the morning to play second fiddle to former England man Scott Borthwick as the two shared a stand of 145 for the third wicket.

For much of that stand Gareth Batty was conspicuous by his absence from the hosts’ attack, but as soon as he did introduce himself Burnham refused to allow the wily off-spinner to dictate terms, lofting him for fours through mid-off and mid-on in the same over.

Once Borthwick (77) and England all-rounder Ben Stokes (12) departed each side of lunch Burnham assumed the burden of main run scorer, moving to his hundred with a dab into the offside and a scamper to the non-striker’s end completed with joyful leap and fist pump in celebration.

There had been 11 fours and two huge sixes in the century and seven more boundaries were unfurled from the blade before he got too far underneath a short one from the persevering Tom Curran (2-90) and holed out to Arun Harinath at deep square for 135.

Mark Richardson (69) who shared a stand of 91 with Burnham for the fifth wicket and former England all-rounder Paul Collingwood (75 not out) then ensured a first innings lead for the visitors.

Nevertheless, they will need either an inspired bowling performance or a change in personality of the pitch to force an unlikely win tomorrow.

If Burnham was the star of the piece, then Borthwick made for an interesting sub-plot.

It is more than two years since the now 26-year-old earned his one and only England cap as replacement for Graeme Swann in Sydney on the Ashes tour of 2014-15.

Back then he was seen as a leg-spinning all-rounder for whom expensive wickets and very few runs in a heavy defeat have meant no recall since.

Neither does he appear to be especially on the selectors’ radar despite consistent run-getting higher up the order at Chester-le-Street, hardly renowned as a batting paradise, not to mention elsewhere, and the absence of anyone else seemingly putting their hand up to fill a No.3 spot needing nailing down at the top of England’s order.

His half century here saw him survive a missed stumping by Ben Foakes as part of a searching examination by Zafar Ansari.

The slow left-arm bowler, who left the field late on with a finger injury, also induced a top edge sweep which failed to carry to fine leg in an impressive spell which went unrewarded.

But those scares apart Borthwick proved once again, if proof were needed, he scores runs at the top level of the county game, something some others currently being touted cannot claim.

The sight of two spinners bowling in tandem either side of lunch was another pleasing aspect of the day in south London.

However, before the ECB are tempted to celebrate slow bowlers being more involved in games in May, something they hoped for when deeming the coin toss no longer compulsory, their employment said as much about the placid wicket as anything else.

Wait a minute, dispensing with coin toss? Placid wickets? More draws? Discuss? Well, another day perhaps.


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