FRIDAY 4TH MAY - MONDAY 7TH MAY
SURREY V WORCESTERSHIRE
The match was drawn at the Kia Oval
Surrey XI: Burns(c), Stoneman, Borthwick, Patel, Foakes, Pope, Curran, Clarke, Meaker, McKerr, Virdi.
Promoted Worcestershire, who have began their new campaign in the top flight by losing all three of their previous games, bowled with spirit in the first session and a half after Surrey had chosen to bat on winning the toss.
Joe Leach’s two-wicket burst immediately after lunch, in which he had both Scott Borthwick and Ryan Patel caught behind, initially pegged Surrey back to 99 for 3 – before Burns and Foakes carefully launched the counter-attack in impressive fashion.
At tea Surrey had taken the total on to 176, with Burns on 84, when Foakes fell in the 73rd over having just extra cover driven Ed Barnard regally for his 11th four.
In the final hour and a half, Burns and Ollie Pope added a further 54, with Pope finishing unbeaten on 18, and by the close Burns had faced 294 balls, hitting 12 fours.
England Test opener Stoneman featured in a hard-working first wicket stand of 50 with Burns, with both left-handers dealing well with a new ball that did nibble around enough to give Worcestershire’s seam attack significant encouragement.
But then Stoneman pushed a ball from Josh Tongue into the covers, called for a single and was beaten by Barnard’s excellent pick-up and direct hit on the bowler’s stumps.
Both Borthwick and Patel got to 10 before the two left-handers were beaten by Worcestershire captain Leach’s away movement from around the wicket and edged to Cox.
Burns had resumed on 137, with Surrey 278 for 4 overnight, and the left-hander soon saw both Ollie Pope and Sam Curran fall to Joe Leach’s canny seamers, snicking to second slip and bowled through the gate respectively. Then, however, Burns was joined in a seventh wicket stand of 89 by Clarke, who made a good 38 before being leg-before to a Morris nip-backer.
Burns (193) was the next man to fall, just seven runs short of his second career double-century as he was caught by Mitchell off the bowling of Morris.
Stuart Meaker (13) became 20-year-old slow left armer Ben Twohig’s maiden first-class wicket when he shouldered arms to a well-flighted ball and was bowled, and a brief last-wicket flurry from McKerr and Virdi ended when the latter steered a short ball from Josh Tongue to second slip, where Mitchell again made a sharp catch look easy.
Surrey ended their innings on a good total of 432 from 144.2 overs.
Worcestershire started their innings relatively well, but On 23, and shortly after tea, D’Oliveira was leg-before at the start of the 18th over to a ball from Clarke which Surrey’s veteran seamer ran on into his pads.
Daryl Mitchell’s gritty 77 not out from 132 balls allowed the away side to reach 135 for 1 from 45 overs in reply by the halfway point of the match.
That left Tom Fell (27 not out) to keep Mitchell company until stumps, with the pair negotiating both a testing and pacy six-over spell from Conor McKerr, a tall and well-built 20-year-old fast bowler, and some teasing off spin from the 19-year-old Amar Virdi.
Clarke, the 21-year-old right hander seemingly destined for higher honours, completed his tenth first-class hundred, in his 51st match, while Fell put behind him a prolonged and worrying run of poor form to score his first Specsavers County Championship half-century since 2016.
Australian left-hander Travis Head also made an attractive 50 before becoming the first of 19-year-old off spinner Virdi’s two scalps when he was bowled attempting to cut. Ben Cox was leg-before to the next ball, the last of the 107th over, but Clarke calmly pushed forward to keep out Virdi’s hat-trick ball at the start of the final over before the tea interval.
Afterwards Clarke scored the twelve more runs he required to go to three figures and, with Ed Barnard, took Worcestershire past 400.
When Clarke was leg-before to tall fast bowler Conor McKerr twenty minutes before the close, after facing 280 balls and striking 18 fours, he had added 124 for the sixth wicket with Barnard, who reached stumps on 42 not out.
Despite losing the dominant Joe Clarke, Barnard’s worked with Worcestershire's lower order to give the Pears the lead, and his contribution of 66 came to end as Virdi picked up his sixth wicket of the innings.
Trailing by 92 heading into the second innings, and the final day’s play, Surrey knew the objective was to bat long and keep wickets.
Surrey openers Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns got through to lunch at 35 for no wicket, but both fell early in the afternoon session – Stoneman leg-before to Charlie Morris for 20 and Burns held low at deep square leg for 30 as he swept at Twohig’s left arm spin.
From 74 for 2, Borthwick was then joined by Ryan Patel in a stand of 62 to ensure no further alarms and all but ensure the draw. Patel, however, was caught at mid wicket for 25, pulling at Morris, in the last over before the tea interval.
Ben Foakes kept Borthwick company until hands were shaken at 4.50pm, with Surrey’s in-form wicketkeeper-batsman ending up on 11 not out. Borthwick, who played some lovely strokes through extra cover and has now scored 250 runs at an average of 50 in this embryonic four-day campaign, faced 154 balls and hit seven fours.
The final day’s play, from a Surrey perspective, was notable not just for Borthwick’s runs – which underlined his excellent start to the new season after the misery of a poor summer in 2017 – but also for Amar Virdi’s 6 for 105.
Captain Burns raises his bat in the direction of the Members’ Pavilion and dressing room at the Kia Oval in celebration of his first innings century against Worcestershire, falling just seven runs short of a double century.
Watch the highlights of every day of Surrey v Worcestershire below.