Stumps, Day Three: Surrey 410-7 (Burns 174*) trail Hampshire 648-7d by 238 runs.
Stand-in Surrey captain Rory Burns played a mammoth innings, hitting his maiden first-class century of the season, to give his side a semblance of hope of salvaging a draw against Hampshire.
Burns’ gargantuan knock has now lasted eight hours and 27 minutes and, having directed traffic for nearly 162 overs in the first innings, he is yet to leave the field.
Resuming the morning on 45, Burns took just four balls to reach his sixth first-class fifty of the season. Three wickets fell in the opening session but he played a real leader’s innings, watchful and patient with the task at hand – reaching the follow-on target of 499 – set to be challenging. The pitch is very flat, but Hampshire’s bowling attack isn’t lacking in magicians.
Burns drove nicely but swept Mason Crane even better, each example a delightful display of batting prowess. It was particularly remarkable given how well Crane had bowled throughout the morning, taking just the wicket of Conor McKerr but looking dangerous. Jason Roy was particularly lucky to survive one that turned off middle stump and missed everything.
Burns gave just one real chance in the entire day. On 98, Fidel Edwards found his edge and Sean Ervine, at first slip, was unable to hold on to a sharp catch diving to his left. Fittingly, he cut the very next ball to the rope to bring up three figures.
Partners came and went but the 26-year-old was resolute, the visitors’ six bowlers helpless to trouble him. Hampshire bowled well for most of the day and yet had very little answer to their foe’s immaculate timing and precision.
A single into the legside brought about his 150 and he eventually moved to 174* – his second highest first-class knock. He has never scored a double century – 199 is his high score – and it’s difficult to see him getting a better opportunity this season.
By the close, Burns was being ably assisted by Tom Curran, who played some crisp offside shots to end unbeaten on 35. The two still have plenty of work to do tomorrow morning, resuming 238 runs behind.
The only other man to show real resistance, Dominic Sibley, showed his talent with a classy 57 from number six. He cut wonderfully, taking a particular liking to the in-tandem spin of Crane and Ervine. Sweeping the former and lofting the latter, Sibley frustrated Hampshire either side of lunch, reaching a sixth first-class half-century in 2017.
But just as though it looked like he and Burns could bat for most of the day’s remaining 35 overs, Sibley left one from Abbott that nipped back a touch and hit him on the top of the front pad just outside off and he was gone for 57.
Sibley was full of praise for his captain at the end of the day: “The application he’s shown, and the stroke-making as well, was outstanding. Hopefully he can kick on and make it into a double hundred and hopefully kick on further and make it a real big one.
“[It was a] tough day, but we battled hard and we’re in a position tomorrow where hopefully if we can get past the follow-on mark we can have a crack at them.”
Scott Borthwick had looked highly uncomfortable for his 36-ball three, inside edging Kyle Abbott behind playing a very loose shot. Roy played some nice strokes in his all-too-brief innings, advancing Crane and taking four back over his head. Abbott had him lbw playing behind his pad for 27.
Ben Foakes fell to a great catch by Rilee Rossouw at midwicket, snatching the ball low after the Surrey wicketkeeper had played a pull downwards.
Sam Curran thrice found the boundary rope but did little else. He was given two bouncers in an over from Edwards before nicking a full delivery behind last ball of said over.
Edwards, speaking at the close, said: “The pitch is flat and slow as well. It’s really hard on the fast bowlers – hard on the spinners as well. Hopefully if we can get some early wickets tomorrow it will put us in a strong position.”