Tom Bailey helped remind everyone that Surrey are fallible as his sixth first-class five-wicket-haul saw them dismissed for just 211 against Lancashire, but the hosts clawed things back in an elongated final session.
Alex Davies nibbled at Jade Dernbach and was caught behind for a duck in the first of 43 overs after the second interval. Haseeb Hameed showed glimpses of the promise England fans developed for him 18 months ago, a soft-handed edge a reminder of his technique.
But it was an international bowler in Morne Morkel who beat him for pace and bowled him on 22 — his second highest first-class score this season; he’s yet to pass 31 — not long after the South African had Rob Jones caught behind. Lancashire were 41 for three.
Captain Dane Vilas had tried to ensure the bowling performance was backed up as he passed 50 for the third time this season. He looked unfazed by the vociferous appeals that came regularly, and batted with the control that had been sorely lacking in Surrey’s batsmen.
But a lapse in concentration eventually saw him throw his hands at a wide one from Sam Curran, feathering behind on 61. It’s the first time he’s reached a half-century and not converted it.
Soon after his departure, Rikki Clarke claimed two wickets in three balls — first Steven Croft, caught at first slip, and then Matt Parkinson trapped lbw — to leave the visitors 129 for six under the floodlights. They added just five more runs before the close.
Despite a good session, Surrey were dealt a blow late in the evening when Dernbach hobbled off mid-way through an over with a sore groin. Head coach Michael Di Venuto doesn’t expect it to be particularly serious, and hopes the bowler will “sleep and pull up okay.”
Earlier, it had been thanks to Dernbach, batting at number ten, that Surrey claimed their single batting bonus point. When he entered the fray at 155 for eight, it appeared as though they may be dismissed for under 200 for the first time since playing Warwickshire at Guildford two years ago.
His partnership of 56 with Morkel — Dernbach’s contribution often swishes wild enough that a lion tamer wouldn’t have gone amiss — took Surrey beyond that 200 mark. Parkinson, the leg-spinner, had Morkel caught at cow corner to break the stand.
Croft took a terrific catch to remove Dernbach two balls later, giving Bailey his fifth wicket. At deep square, he took the ball and judged the juggle perfectly as he went over the boundary before returning to complete the catch. T20 at The Kia Oval may be over for the season, but that was ripped straight from a Friday night extravaganza.
Bailey’s first three scalps had been less spectacular. It took him just 25 balls to remove Surrey’s top order, all in dismal fashion for the batsmen.
He bowled a good line and length outside off stump during his first spell, inducing Rory Burns’ edge from the very first delivery of the match. It dropped short, but he soon had the Surrey skipper caught in the cordon trying to simultaneously waft and leave.
Mark Stoneman was next to go, again wafting outside off and again caught in the slips. But the worst was yet to come as Arun Harinath played a horrible loose drive to a good length ball that nibbled, took the edge and flew to first slip.
Surrey had just 28 on the board, and Burns’ decision to bat first at the toss appeared a mistake. The pink ball moved around a touch all day, but not enough to induce such misjudgement. For the Division One leaders, it looked poor.
Ben Foakes drove two lovely boundaries before getting a good ball from Joe Mennie which he could only nick behind. Aaron Finch, playing his second Specsavers County Championship game of the season, looked to be characteristically positive in his 43, launching Parkinson’s third ball into the Pavilion. But the leggie had the last laugh with a beauty that pitched on leg stump, gripped and spun, and took the leading edge.
A cameo of 40 from Curran — a player many in the stands thought should be playing in Nottingham, not Kennington — saw Surrey get to the first interval just five down. He added 15 quickly after it but became Bailey’s fourth victim, prodding forward and edging behind.
Rikki Clarke went in a moment of madness, calling Ryan Patel through for a quick single but both men hesitated when Patel sent him back. Haseeb Hameed needed not throw the ball to run Clarke out. At that stage, all hope looked lost for Surrey; by stumps, the match was very much in the balance.