Clark, Burns and Amla see Surrey dominant on Day 1 at the...

Clark, Burns and Amla see Surrey dominant on Day 1 at the Oval

Rory Burns Surrey 2021
Picture courtesy of Surrey County Cricket Club on Youtube, with thanks

What was sun dangly clear was that this pitch will deliver a result. The grass had been left on with a boundary close by, and runs and wickets looked like they would be equally easy to come by.

Hampshire started off, it seemed, in much their usual fashion. Ian Holland and Joe Weatherly seemed comfortable enough over the first 100 balls or so, and the Surrey bowlers could seem to find a testing line.

Then, it all went wrong for the team from the south coast. At the hands of Rikki Clarke and Jordan Clark, six wickets fell for 14 runs (four of which came as the score stalled at 44). It was obvious that there would be something in this pitch for the bowlers, but it seems it took the experience of the two Clark(e)s to exploit it; when they did though, it felt like the game might have been won in the space of five overs.

Some credit was due to Hampshire’s wicket-keeper Lewis McManus who managed to mount a small counter charge, posting a rather speedy 31* from 44 balls. The speed of his knock was very much brought about through necessity, as the tail (much like the rest of the batting line-up) collapsed without much resistance. Jordan Clark was the pick of the bowlers, cleaning up said tail and taking an impressive 6-21 in the process. 

All this left Hampshire all out without managing to cross the three-figure barrier, finishing with a hugely underwhelming 92 all out. 

The visitors will have obviously been disappointed by this performance, but perhaps the dressing room might just have been buoyed by the idea of their dynamic bowling duo of Kyle Abbott and Mohammed Abbas getting a chance to bowl on this green top. 

Unfortunately, Rory Burns looked like he had found a completely different pitch. The first 3 overs went for over seven each without a false shot on display.

However, everyone had a feeling that this relative ease was not sustainable. Abbott and Abbas were always going to find movement in this pitch with the score on 31, it was Abbott who got Mark Stoneman caught behind as he drove at a ball outside off. It seemed that Abbott had found his area. 

After this though, both Abbott and Abbas failed to threaten either Burns or Hashim Amla again before tea; neither did the rest of the Hants attack for that matter.

This was a pitch that had been prepared for Surrey to thrive on and Burns was in some much-needed form after his uncharacteristically poor start to the championship season. His fifty came off just 77 balls, with success seeming to come to the batsmen who were willing to take on the bowlers and the pitch in order to score quickly.

As the second session came to an end then, Surrey had taken a small lead of four, going for their tea on 96-1 with both Burns 55*(89) and Amla 30*(54) set for the evening session. 

After tea, it was Amla’s turn to up the run-rate, bringing up his fifty in just the 7th over after tea. The partnership was growing and growing, and the Hants attack had no answer to it. 

The light held out just long enough for the pair to bring up their 100 partnership before both sides were forced prematurely from the field. 

Today was all Surrey. The home side needed a win from this match and they have done everything in their power so far to ensure that is what they get. Hampshire for their part will be disappointed with their performance; this pitch should have suited their bowlers and no batting line-up should fail to hit three figures.

Tomorrow will not be any easier. The pitch will only get flatter, whilst the boundary stays short, and two, set, world-class batsmen and a generational talent in Ollie Pope still to come.

Hampshire have a mountain to climb, but stranger things have happened in this funny old game, and a moment can change a match. That is what the visitors will have to believe anyway. 


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