I’d hoped for 3 things before this day started, for Ryan Patel to get his maiden century, for Surrey to be all out promptly and for the Essex batsmen to start well.
2 of those things happened, Patel was playing in only his 22nd First Class innings and wow he played a superb role. He batted for 375 minutes, that’s over 6 hours (doing the Maths for you). He faced 278 balls after coming in at 3 and seeing Surrey fall to 86 for 3. I couldn’t have been happier that he reached his milestone, even though he was batting against my team!
I imagine all willing him towards his century were worried he was going to run out of partners as Peter Siddle first reached his 5fer, bowling Liam Plunkett for a Duck, before catching Freddie van den Bergh LBW for 16, he’d faced 33 balls in the 36 minutes he was in, denying Patel his opportunity.
Morne Morkel defended his wicket pretty much until Patel had reached his 100, before falling victim to Simon Harmer, he was caught by none other than Peter Siddle, who returned figures of 6 for 104 over his 33 overs. He’d worked really hard, especially on Day 1 and was fully deserving of reaching his milestone. Surrey were All Out for 395, with Patel finishing unbeaten on 100.
The day was overcast and chilly, not perfect batting conditions, especially with the likes of Morne Morkel with a new red ball in his hand. An observation on Morkel who’s extended his 2 year contract, signed last year to the end of next year. I watch a lot of theatre and several times of late I’ve had a tall bloke blocking my view, Morkel is clearly a tall bloke, he’s 6 foot 4, but it really seems to me that most of that’s legs, they’re stupidly long! He wouldn’t be an issue on the blocking front.
Tom Curran opened the bowling with Morkel and it was the young Surrey man who struck first, neither opening bat had looked overly comfortable, and Sir Alastair Cook was the first to depart, being caught by Ben Foakes for 11. Nick Browne departed in the next over as he was trapped LBW by Morkel for 11. That third wish of mine most certainly wasn’t happening, Essex were 20 for 2!
Tom Westley had come in at 3 and Dn Lawrence joined him with their team in some trouble. The pair batted patiently against some torrid bowling putting on 96 for the third wicket. Kumar Sangakarra was at Surrey for a few years and his influence can be seen in the young Surrey batsmen, it can only be of huge benefit to have Morne Morkel and from this season Liam Plunkett working alongside them.
Ollie Pope took a wonderful catch in the slips to dismiss Tom Westley from the bowling of Tom Curran, the benefits of having 3 keepers in the slips cordon! Westley had made 41 runs from 72 balls having batted for 119 minutes. Essex had progressed to 116 for 3.
Rishi Patel, who I’d watched playing for the 2nd XI on Wednesday was up next, a late replacement for Ravi Bopara he gave a hint of his batting ability. Still just 20 he has a way to go on the fielding front but he played some classy shots in making 31 from 25 balls, that included six 4’s. He became Curran’s 3rd wicket in the final over before tea, Rikki Clarke took the catch. Essex were 168 for 4
Lawrence finished the day on 87, having batted for over 3 hours, ten Doeschate made 20 and Essex had moved to 202 for 4.
I must make mention of Liam Plunkett, he bowled 7 overs, conceding 55 runs. I’ve just checked last years’ bowling figures and he doesn’t feature at all, so that means he bowled 7 more red ball overs than for Yorkshire last year. It’ll be interesting to see how things go at Surrey, with no more red ball cricket for a few weeks. As an aside, he seemed confused by the weather, it really was cold, but Plunkett came out in a short sleeved shirt and pullover, in common with a couple of others. Then one of the lovely long sleeved jumpers, before finishing off in a floppy hat and back to short sleeves. I was in 5 laters by that point and still cold!