Surrey v Essex
LV= Insurance County Championship
The Kia Oval, Kennington, Sunday 12 September – Wednesday 15 September
Surrey: Ryan Patel, Cameron Steel, Hashim Amla (c), Ollie Pope, Will Jacks, Rikki Clarke, Jordan Clark, Jonathan Tattersall (wk), James Taylor, Daniel Moriarty, Reece Topley.
Essex: Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley (c), Dan Lawrence, Paul Walter, Adam Wheater (wk), Simon Harmer, Aron Nijjar, Shane Snater, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter.
Umpires: Billy Taylor, Paul Baldwin, Will Smith
Toss: Essex, who elected to bat
Scorecard: View Here
Day Four Reaction: Anthony McGrath
Day Four Match Report:
Hashim Amla provided two defining innings as he scrapped and battled on behalf of his Surrey side to defy Essex’s hopes of achieving their third Championship win a row as the match at The Kia Oval petered out into a draw.
Amla orchestrated a rearguard battle in the morning session taking the home side’s first innings into the afternoon until he was dismissed for 84 having batted for 5 and a half hours before his Surrey side were all out for 161.
He then returned to the crease early in Surrey’s second innings to defy the opposition for a further 98 minutes whilst compiling an unbeaten 34 out of 113-2 before Essex skipper Tom Westley called off the hunt to leave Essex with 15 points from the drawn affair.
There was still a minimum of 53 overs remaining when Surrey started their second innings still trailing by 278 runs.
Harmer did have left-hander Ryan Patel caught at slip by Dan Lawrence for 17 out of 28 but Amla joined Cameron Steel to avert any further problems before tea as Surrey arrived the interval on 60-1.
Three overs later, Shane Snater produced a delivery that nipped back on Steel who was bowled for 28 with at least 31 overs still left.
But on a pitch that had eased dramatically from Monday’s helpful nature to bowlers, Ollie Pope and the imperious Amla eased their side into survival mode with a disciplined and safety-first approach.
With the batsmen becoming more adhesive by the minute and thoughts of victory diminishing rapidly into the realms of the unlikely, Westley offered the ball to Alastair Cook who sent down six balls of varying line and length that produced five runs before Westley gave up the chase for success.
Amla was unbeaten on 34 and Pope 27 not out at the conclusion of proceedings, the duo having composed an unbeaten third-wicket partnership worth 47 runs.
Following the blank third day, the match had resumed on time with Essex hoping to take the remaining three overnight wickets and then make inroads into the Surrey second innings to raise hopes for a third successive win in Division Two.
But Amla had other ideas. Completely unflappable, he played with a straight bat approach in a model display of studious defensive technique.
Yes, it was attritional but more importantly from Surrey’s perspective, provided them with the lifeline needed to save the match.
His fellow overnight not out batsman James Taylor took his lead from the 38-year-old South African international and provided his necessary back-to-the-wall effort in support of his skipper with increased noticeable accomplishment.
Half of the 32 overs sent down in the morning session were maidens as Amla and Taylor refused to be cajoled into any error of judgement only seldom breaking free from their self-imposed shackles.
It was not until the 19th over of the day that a boundary was recorded, Taylor steering Aron Nijjar to the ropes and then in the next over, Taylor collected a boundary off Harmer.
It was Snater who brought relief to the visitors camp ending their frustration when he had Taylor, who had batted defiantly for 111 minutes, caught for 19 by Paul Walter in the covers.
That wicket brought a halt to run-scoring with the next four overs failing to produce a single run as Amla led the next period of entrenchment now accompanied by Dan Moriarty. The pair carried their side through to Lunch on 151-8 with just 44 runs scored in the pre-lunch period with Amla having added 24 to his total from 75 balls.
Essex took the second new ball with the score on 153-8 and Jamie Porter and Harmer soon claimed the remaining two wickets to keep their lingering hopes of a positive outcome alive.
Amla’s vigil spanning 5 and a half hours and 209 deliveries for 84 ended when Harmer gained a leg before wicket judgement as the batsman stepped across his wicket and was beaten by a ball that turned into him.
In the next over, Porter had Moriarty caught behind for 8 leaving Surrey following-on.
Porter and Harmer shared 6 first-innings wickets at a cost of 27 and 49 respectively, the off-spinner having sent down 31 overs of which 14 were maidens, whilst Snater claimed 2/22 and Sam Cook 2/31.
Day Two Match Highlights:
Day Two Reaction: Jamie Porter
Day Two Match Report:
After posting a sizeable 439 in their first innings, Essex have taken a stranglehold on this match at The Kia Oval having reduced Surrey to 107-7 by the close of play to enjoy a lead of 332 runs.
After Alastair Cook had finally been removed for 165, his highest score on the ground, the visitor’s attack turned the spotlight on their own efforts with Jamie Porter and Sam Cook making devastating early inroads.
Only Hashim Amla has shown the grit and resolve needed and he was still in situ at stumps with 58 not out.
New ball pair Porter and Cook each claimed a wicket without a run on the board. Porter had Cameron Steel picked up by Alastair Cook at first slip with the last ball of the opening over of the innings and two deliveries later, Cook removed Ryan Patel who was leg before pushing forward.
Both bowlers were asking serious questions of the batsmen and Porter might have had a second wicket when Amla, on 4 with the total on 10, edged a delivery between second and third slips at a catchable height.
Although that chance went begging, Porter was rewarded for his efforts in an impressive spell of bowling in his next over when England Test batsman Ollie Pope edged a good length delivery that moved into the batsman into the gloves of Adam Wheater to leave Surrey 19=3.
A partnership of 33 involving Amla and Will Jacks either side of Tea was brought to a halt Jacks, on 11, played across the line to Shane Snater and was leg before. All the while, Amla remained resilient and adhesive showing his vast experience and expertise to defy the Essex bowlers.
Rikki Clarke hoisted Harmer over the ropes but three overs later, became the off-spinner’s 50th Championship wicket for the season when he advanced down the track and was stumped for 12 as the Brown Caps recoiled to 78-5 in the 30th over.
Jordan Clark pushed at a ball from Cook and was pouched by Wheater before Harmer turned the screw tighter when Nick Browne showed wonderful reactions with a one-handed catch at short leg to account for Jonny Tattersall.
Earlier on the day, the visitors lost three wickets before Lunch whilst adding 116 runs to their overnight score to arrive at Lunch on 415-6.
Alastair Cook had resumed on 140 and together with nightwatchman Jamie Porter, they fashioned a 54 runs stand carrying the total to 348 before they were separated. Cook continued to look impressive as he cruised past 147 (his highest career score at The Kia Oval) to arrive at 150 from 304 deliveries with the 19th boundary of his innings, this one a trademark cut when facing the bowling of Cameron Steel.
Whist there was an air of inevitability about the continued compilation of runs from the former England Captain and opener, it was the excellent Porter that caught the imagination as he frustrated the Surrey attack.
He gathered runs with a series of well-timed strokes including an excellent straight drive off Steel that raced to the boundary. He was just 4 runs short of equalling his highest score of 34 made in 2015, when he was caught behind by Jonny Tattersall off Rikki Clarke to end the number eleven’s hour’s stay at the crease during which he faced 57 balls and collected 6 boundaries.
The pair had taken the score to within 2 runs of a third batting point and that was duly achieved with 16 balls to spare when Paul Walter arrived in the middle to join Cook
Having scored 165, Cook was the next to go. He stepped back to cut left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty but was caught behind to give the wicket-keeper, on loan from Yorkshire, his fourth catch of the innings.
Cook left the field to generous applause, duly acknowledged by the batsman who raised his bat towards all areas of an appreciative audience occasionally looking back to cast a glance or two at a venue with special memories for the 36-year-old.
The final wicket to fall before the break was that of Walter who had reached 33 when he was superbly caught by Ollie Pope at second slip diving low to his right after the ball had been deflected off the gloves of the keeper.
Resuming the afternoon session on 415-6, the visitors lost their remaining wickets in 43 balls for 11 runs with the final three all falling on 439 in 15 deliveries.
Reece Topley and James Taylor polished off the innings with former Essex paceman Topley removing Adam Wheater for a determined 36 and Simon Harmer for 3 whilst Taylor bagged Aron Nijjar for 2 before pinning Sam Cook in front of his stumps for a duck.
Day One Match Highlights:
Day One Match Report:
Alastair Cook scored a magnificent century on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship match with Surrey at The Kia Oval to steer Essex to 299 for 3 at the close.
Cook was unbeaten on 140 and will resume in the morning with nightwatchman Jamie Porter (0*) who arrived at the crease with just 3 overs remaining after Dan Lawrence had been dismissed for 78.
Cook was in sublime form, treating the crowd to a series of trademark cuts and drives through the covers and past mid-off on a ground where he brought the curtain down on his England Test career in September 2018.
On that occasion, the left-hander bowed out by taking 147 off India’s bowlers. Whilst the Surrey attack would not rate as highly, the redoubtable Cook’s mastery was just as convincing in another masterful display on a ground where he has now scored 5 centuries in 17 first-class matches. This was his second in Championship cricket at this venue and his 26th first-class century for Essex.
Cook contributed to two century partnerships, the first with Tom Westley for 120 and then with Lawrence with whom 145 were added as the Essex batsmen played with commanding presence at the crease.
Lawrence was well-organised and timed the ball effortlessly. He selectively and commendably whipped the ball into the legside with precision and with prowess and drove with elegance to the offside.
His half-century arrived from 79 balls and embraced 1 six and 3 fours during an innings full of carefully crafted strokes. Lawrence continued to progress without concern despite the regular bowling changes made by Surrey captain Hashim Amla in an attempt to break the stronghold exerted by the two England players old and new.
The former South African international, who spent a brief period with Essex in 2009, was eventually given the breakthrough when Lawrence was brought forward by spinner Daniel Moriarty and was adjudged lbw having faced 130 deliveries.
Nick Browne had made 13 out of 29 when he edged a ball from Jordan Clark to give wicket-keeper Jonny Tattersall a catch on his Surrey debut. From thereon, it was batsmen that prospered.
Tom Westley started tentatively. He finally secured his first runs having faced 21 deliveries when collecting a boundary through the slips off James Taylor having spent 30 minutes at the crease at this point.
The Essex skipper, who had won the toss and elected to wield the willow, also survived a difficult chance to Rikki Clarke at first slip but in the same over, played a superb cut that raced to the ropes.
As he played with increasing fluency, the runs began to flow more freely as he and Cook began to dictate proceedings.
Cook had faced 119 deliveries with 9 boundaries when he arrived at his half-century and he and Westley completed their 100-run stand from 226 balls.
Westley had taken his tally for this championship season to 631 runs with this innings of 49 when he flirted at a ball from Rikki Clarke to give Tattersall, on loan from Yorkshire, his second catch of the day.
Essex will resume Day Two with the score on 299-3 with a single required to secure a third batting point as the visitors will look to press home the advantage and maintain their status as leaders of Division Two.
Essex made two changes from the side that thrashed Gloucestershire by an innings at Chelmsford in their previous match. Michael Pepper and Josh Rymell missed out and were replaced by Aron Nijjar and Dan Lawrence who returned from England duty.
For slow left-arm bowler Nijjar, it was his first match in the Championship since the final game of the 2019 season when Essex played out a draw against Somerset at Taunton to win the County Championship title.