In the space of just over 48 hours, three batsmen made centuries against Surrey, all in very different fashion and all with very little in the way of response, today from a largely inexperienced attack.
On Saturday, that centurion was Alex Hales, inflicting on Surrey their third Royal London One-Day Cup final defeat in as many years. Today, both James Vince and Jimmy Adams racked up the runs as Hampshire took a firm hold after choosing to bat on a flat Oval surface.
Where Hales took apart bowling like a man using a sledgehammer, Adams batted with the finesse of a skilled surgeon. It wasn’t always exciting, nor was it ever extravagant; rather, it was an innings of grit and determination.
That was especially apparent in the morning session, in which he faced 89 balls for just 24.
Either side of lunch he racked up 25 dot balls, worrying about nothing other than the next ball and treating it with the shot it deserved. It was his 101st ball when he broke that streak with a boundary; his next 73 runs to his century came in 87 deliveries.
He and Vince worked Surrey’s bowlers into the ground, and by mid-afternoon scoring had become relatively easy, the pair able to pick off the flurry of wayward deliveries. Both scored plenty square of the wicket, and plenty in boundaries.
216 of the day’s runs came in fours, the majority through beautifully executed cover drives or cuts with the ball racing away.
Vince’s innings was more aggressive, in the style one would expect a James Vince ton to be, but rarely risky and not brutally destructive. His drives were a thing of wonder, picking out the gaps with expert precision, accumulating runs with ease. 40 of his first 46 runs were fours.
Vince’s half-century came pushing off the back foot to cover point, and he only proceeded to accelerate. He batted at quicker than a run-a-ball to three figures, notching up another nine boundaries. Both batsmen took a particular liking to Conor McKerr: 16 overs for 76 with 17 coming from the 19-year-old’s 11th over.
Vince dabbed to third man to move into the nineties and three overs later helped the ball around the corner for his 20th career ton. Eight balls later, he was out in the exact same fashion as his second innings dismissal last week – Tom Curran finding a touch of extra bounce and Vince edging a cut through to Ben Foakes.
In the latter stages of his century, Adams moved up a gear, pulling Tom Curran for six before launching Amar Virdi over his head, first for six and then for four. He worked off his legs to bring up his three figures, a second first-class century of the year for both him and Vince.
Adams wasn’t done. He slowed once again, the Curran brothers tidy with the second new ball but the remaining bowlers often erratic, and the 36-year-old punished what needed punishing.
First ball of the last over of the day, however, he missed a yorker from Virdi and was bowled legstump, bringing to an end his 144, but it did little to taint an otherwise chanceless knock.
Skipper George Bailey joined Adams just prior to tea and, although not keeping the same scoring speed as the man he replaced, he was just as purposeful. There were big runs on offer and he knew it.
He timed the ball sweetly, powerfully, and occasionally brutally. Bailey struck the day’s third six, advancing to Virdi and finding one of the upper stands at the Vauxhall end.
He pulled Mark Footitt through midwicket for his second Specsavers County Championship half-century of the season – his other came against Lancashire, where he went on to make 127. By the close, he had 61* with his side very well set for a mammoth total.
“It’s nice to be able to wake up in the morning and knowing you’re still in a good place, still batting, but I’d have taken that,” Adams said.
“It was a bit of a grind [in the] first session. There wasn’t much in terms of scoring options.
“Maybe that was just me, because Vincey came in and made it look very easy, but that’s the way he plays. And [George Bailey] as well, it’s nice to have a good partnership with him.”
“We’re delighted with the day but well aware there’s plenty of cricket left in this. It looks a good batter’s wicket.”
Earlier, Lewis McManus – promoted to open in Liam Dawson’s absence with England – had made just 13 before being bowled by Sam Curran. Rilee Rossouw, kept at three with Tom Alsop presumably chomping at the bit for his chance, looked more fluent than in recent weeks but reached just 28 before playing at a wide delivery from Tom Curran and edging to second slip.
Surrey’s Director of Cricket Alec Stewart said: “I thought first session, we were decent. Middle session, we definitely weren’t, and then the second new ball I thought the Currans bowled well.
“But overall, there wasn’t enough of that discipline bowling that we’d expect from a top side, and we got punished.”
Surrey will also be concerned by the absence of captain Gareth Batty, who has a calf problem, and Kumar Sangakkara, who split webbing on Saturday. Stewart expects both to be out for ten to 12 days.