I joined Surrey as a member in 2015, largely with The Ashes in mind, in the years since I’ve formed a soft spot for Surrey in spite of being an Essex fan. This then gives me mixed emotions when the 2 teams meet. I haven’t been able to give up that membership, there’s something I like about sitting in the Long Room to eat my lunch and it’s been a place where I’ve felt welcome from Day 1. Plus they do cake, always a bonus!
On arrival at the Oval there was quite a queue to get in, a very pleasing sight; which might seem a strange thing to say, but, this format of the game remains one people want to watch. (ECB are you listening?)
5 out of 6 matches last week had the visiting team putting the home team in to bat. I’d say it’ll be a rare team that’ll choose to put this Surrey team in to bat at The Oval, and Essex clearly wouldn’t have picked that. However Rory Burns won the toss and elected to bat.
This is where my mixed emotions came into play even more so, I want Essex to win, always. But, when I’m watching England batsmen and potential England players, I want them to do well. Rory Burns will hopefully keep his opening spot for the Ashes and this Surrey line up is littered with future England players.
I’m not going to write a match report here, it’s 10pm and I have to be up early to get to the Oval for Day 2!
Burns opened with Mark Stoneman, I really only saw Burns batting for any length of time last Summer, I find his stance fascinating, he looks like one of the men in a Lowrie painting, trying to keep standing up in a strong wind. He scored 1359 runs in 2018 at an average of 64.71 so that stance obviously serves him well!
Burns and Stoneman put on 75 before Burns was caught behind by on loan keeper Robbie White from the bowling of Jamie Porter, he’d made 31 from 65 balls. White found himself behind the stumps, standing next to Alastair Cook after Adam Wheater damaged his thumb early in the match against Hampshire, that must have been beyond surreal! It was good to see him taking a catch under what must’ve been a lot of pressure.
Peter Siddle, a last minute (ish) replacement opened the bowling with Porter; looking fit and in fine form he finished the day with 4 for 82 having bowled 25 overs. In all honesty the Essex bowlers toiled on this first day at The Oval and we were treated to some very fine batting from a number of young Surrey stars.
Stoneman made 45 before falling victim to Siddle, another catch for White, 82 for 2 soon became 86 for 3 when Ollie Pope, a young batsman I love watching, was out for 4. A big wicket for Siddle, caught behind by Dan Lawrence, who ended the day with one catch and a couple dropped.
Ryan Patel had come in at 3 and he was joined by Ben Foakes, one who got away as far as Essex are concerned. One who should be behind the stumps for England in the Ashes as far as I’m concerned. The pair played 2 very different innings. Patel played a patient innings, Foakes played an innings that was a joy to behold (here come those mixed messages again!)
Foakes made 69 from 111 balls, Patel finished the day on 70 from 223 balls, having batted for 304 minutes. Actually both innings were a sight to behold, 69 in 304 minutes is ‘proper cricket’ good to see a young batsmen soaking up the balls as he worked his way to that 70.
Simon Harmer came to the rescue as Surrey seems to be running away, Alastair Cook catching Foakes to the delight of his team mates. That wicket with Surrey on 181 for 4 brought another Surrey product to the crease, Will Jacks had 12 First Class innings under his belt before this. I’d heard good things about him and wow he showed why today. He opened his account with a huge 6 to the delight of the Surrey fans in the Peter May stand, a noisy bunch who set up camp high up in the stand. A bit strange on this day when the wicket was the other side of the ground. Jacks and Patel put on 151 runs and it was hard to see where a wicket was going to come from .
At this point I’m going to digress and go for a quote from my new favourite book – The Cricketer Who’s Who 2019 – when asked – Which Rule Would you Change About Cricket? Will Jacks response has made me laugh – ‘We should have a separate team for fielding so batsmen don’t have to do it. I sat with a friend and new member, Tim Redsell after tea, and we watched first Peter Siddle, then Jamie Porter run from one side of the field to the other as we had a left handed and right handed batsman at the crease, I imagine a few bowlers would agree with Will!
I put a jinx on Will Jacks after counting down to his century, getting my camera ready to capture the moment, he became Siddle’s 3rd wicket as he was clean bowled on 88. Jacks disappointment was palpable, I felt disappointed for him too. These 2 young batsmen 21 and 20 had taken the score to 332 for 5.
Essex pulled themselves back into the game once this partnership was broken as Siddle trapped Rikki Clarke LBW for a Duck and Tom Curran befell the same fate to Harmer for 8. Surrey finished the day on 342 for 7. Well, that was pretty much a report of the day, seems I just can’t help myself!