Rory Burns brightly to help Surrey shine

Rory Burns brightly to help Surrey shine

Rory Burns

 

Some new captains struggle with form after being installed in the role. Rory Burns has no such problem.

Last season, deputising as captain with Gareth Batty injured, Burns made an unbeaten 219 against Hampshire where he spent just the final 29 minutes off the field over two innings; here, against Worcestershire, he lasted nearly nine hours on his way to 193.

This was a remarkable knock, Burns steadfast during a first hour in which Worcestershire claimed two quick wickets and ensuring that Surrey avoided a collapse from 295 for six.

Burns was accompanied in the morning first by Ollie Pope and later Rikki Clarke — Sam Curran was castled for a duck in between — both of whom looked to be positive where they could.

Worcestershire have looked a touch lacklustre on their Division One return but on a surface doing enough to aid bowlers, they prevented Surrey from pressing the accelerator from their overnight 278-4.

Burns instead channelled the spirit of a learner driver at a busy junction, watching and waiting for the right moment — he was rarely allowed to leave the ball before midday with Joe Leach bowling a particularly threatening eight over spell, finishing with four wickets for the 26th time in first-class cricket.

When Burns got going, it was worth the wait. A stunning on drive brought him 150 and it was quickly followed by another, bookended by a pair of crunching cover drives. As he continued into the afternoon and the nervous 190s, it looked as though he could once again carry his bat.

His dismissal cannot even be considered a brainfade, rather a complete loss of concentration and focus with a double hundred in sight. Burns flashed at a wide delivery from Charlie Morris and missed, before treating the Oval crowd to an action replay next ball, only this time Morris found the edge.

It was in complete contrast to how had played to that point, but he can be forgiven for making an error after so long an innings.

Burns has never been involved with England at any level despite passing 1,000 first-class runs for the past four seasons, doing so in the Specsavers County Championship for the last three. One Surrey opener will walk onto the hallowed turf at Lord’s in three weeks’ time; England could do worse than to consider another.

After Surrey’s tail did its best to wag — Curran the only batsman not to make double figures as they were all out for 434 — Daryl Mitchell set about replicating his opposite number Burns.

Mitchell is comfortably the oldest member of this Worcestershire team and his experience was vital during a lively spell from Conor McKerr after tea. The 20-year-old has sharp pace and extracted bounce that saw edges fly out of the slip cordon’s reach.

But Mitchell battled, putting faith into his ability to cut — with his execution occasionally uncontrolled — and taking advantage of the bad ball, which came with some regularity.

Most of Surrey’s 45 overs either elicited the classic fielder’s yelp that comes with a loose shot or provided the batsmen width to score runs, giving the sun-bathed spectators something to get excited about.

Clarke claimed the sole wicket, pinning Brett D’Oliveira on the crease and removing him lbw for 23, with Tom Fell reaching 27 by the close. Fell is without a first-class century since September 2015 and has set a good platform to break that streak.

Earlier, debutant Ben Twohig picked up his maiden first-class wicket as Stuart Meaker left one that held its line from around the wicket and hit the top of off stump.

Twohig, the 20-year-old born in Dewsbury, bowls left arm orthodox with a clean action and despite not getting excessive turn, he appears one young player worth keeping an eye on.

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