Mon, 23 Sep 2019

Hampshire tail wags despite Rikki Clarke's seven-for

ESPNCricInfo
21 Aug 2019, 05:42 GMT+10

Surrey 109 for 2 (Stoneman 52*) trail Hampshire 367 (Holland 51, Abbott 72, Stevenson 51, Clarke 7 for 74)

Hampshire's seamers enjoyed themselves with bat and ball as the visitors edged ahead of hosts Surrey on day two at the Oval.

Ryan Stevenson scored a maiden first-class 50 adding 114 for the ninth wicket with Kyle Abbott, who top scored with 72.

It meant Hampshire rallied from their overnight score of 222 for 7 to total 367 - this despite Rikki Clarke adding two more victims to his first day five-for to finish with 7 for 74.

Sam Curran at three?

It was unexpected to see Sam Curran stride out at number three for Surrey - the only previous time he had done in the Championship was as a nightwatchman in 2015 - and instantly various theories were hatched. Were England pushing him up the order to get him some batting practice? Or even preparing him as a replacement for Jason Roy or Joe Denly? In fact, it was a cunning ploy by Surrey. With Curran set to be replaced by a bowler as he joins up with England's squad in Leeds, they decided to shove him up the order to get the maximum possible use out of him - not that it mattered much, as he made just 14.

Then, on a day when 22 more overs were lost to the weather, Fidel Edwards took two wickets with the new ball in the final session to leave Surrey 109 for 2, 258 runs behind.

Surrey were looking to wrap up Hampshire's first innings quickly after Clarke's five-wicket haul on day one.

The veteran allrounder should have had a sixth when he found the edge of Lewis McManus' bat, but Scott Borthwick shelled a regulation catch at second slip.

The drop wasn't costly, however, as in Clarke's next over, the diminutive wicketkeeper pulled a rank long-hop straight into the hands of Mark Stoneman at midwicket.

At 234 for 8, Surrey would have expected to be batting before lunch, but they had reckoned without ninth-wicket pair Abbott and Stevenson. Aided by some wayward Surrey bowling the pair played positively, hitting England seamer Sam Curran for five fours in two overs with the second new ball.

Abbott plundered 10 fours in reaching 50 in just 67 balls, while Stevenson eased beyond his previous first-class carer best of 30. Twenty minutes were lost to rain which returned five minutes before lunch but by then the pair had added 93.

The lunchtime deluge delayed the restart until 3;20, but the duo picked up where they had left off to raise the century stand. And soon after Stevenson reached a superb maiden first-class 50 from 90 balls complete with seven fours.

Clarke returned to trap him lbw for 51, but by the time Abbott was last man out caught in the deep a fourth batting point had been secured.

Fidel Edwards might have struck with the second ball of Surrey's reply had Liam Dawson clung on to Stoneman's flashing drive which flew over his fingertips at second slip.

The former West Indies Test quick soon had a wicket to his name though, striking in his third over with a lifting ball which Ryan Patel edged through to McManus.

Curran was promoted to No. 3 because of his impending call-up to the England squad for the third Ashes Test, but he didn't waste much time in the middle. Edwards, who had by this stage switched to the Pavilion end banged in a short one which Curran hooked straight down the throat of Stevenson at deep square.

Stoneman settled down to unleash some sweet cover drives to reach 50 for the fifth time in the Championship this season, sharing an unbroken stand of 69 for the third wicket with Borthwick in the process.

But with Dawson already extracting some turn from the surface, Surrey face another testing day tomorrow.

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