Jordan blocks Essex's path
Chris Jordan’s stubborn career-best 71 underpinned a Surrey recovery against Essex at Chelmsford, which boosted their late surge for promotion in the LV= County Championship.
Jordan came to the crease with the visitors in trouble at 148 for six and helped them to 315 all out. In the process he overtook his previous best: 57 versus Nottinghamshire in 2008.
The 22-year-old bowling all-rounder, playing in his sixth championship match of the season having missed all of last with a back injury, erred on the side of caution to give his team the better of a chilly opening day played mainly under overcast skies.
Jordan, who hit only four boundaries in the 172 balls he faced, shared stands of 81 with Gareth Batty and 69 with Stuart Meaker.
Graham Napier ended Jordan’s vigil to complete his second five-wicket haul of the championship campaign, finishing with a first-class-best 6-53.
Openers Billy Godleman and Tom Westley survived two overs in late afternoon sun to close on six without loss.
Batty and Jason Roy had rebuilt from 94 for five, after Essex won the toss, with a partnership worth 54 during the morning session when wickets and runs flowed freely.
Although the hosts slowed the scoring rate, Jordan and Co batted with determination to eke out three batting bonus points on a pitch of variable bounce, particularly with the new ball.
Surrey, unchanged from their 333-run demolition of Northamptonshire, cannot now move above last week’s opponents into the promotion places during this match in hand, but will be confident of victory against a shaky batting line-up.
Napier capitalised on ideal seam bowling conditions and a pitch of erratic bounce to test Surrey’s openers, forcing the in-form Steven Davies to find Jaik Mickleburgh in the gully.
After Rory Hamilton-Brown lifted David Masters over mid-on for six, Mark Ramprakash misjudged a Napier delivery that clipped the top of the veteran’s off stump.
Tymal Mills, replacing Maurice Chambers in the only change to the team that lost to Kent last week, then found Zander de Bruyn’s outside edge en route to Westley at first slip.
Mills produced a beauty to remove Hamilton-Brown, who could not keep out the left-armer’s inswinging yorker on 32 despite getting bat and pad on it.
Tom Maynard and Roy briefly prospered until Ryan ten Doeschate trapped the former in front for 19 as he nudged forward.
Growing in confidence, Roy stuck the returning Masters down the ground for a maximum. The 21-year-old survived on 39 when ten Doeschate spilled a chance off Masters high to his left at third slip.
Roy benefited little, though, as Napier had him caught at second slip by Westley shortly after lunch for a typically swift 43 from 40 balls.
Batty lived dangerously; surviving a close leg-before shout from Napier, edging the same bowler through a vacant gully and being dropped at mid-on by Masters off ten Doeschate.
Batty rode his luck with Jordan in support as batting became easier while the Tiflex ball, not used in the top flight, softened.
The sixth-wicket pair consolidated while rotating the strike effectively, although Batty was again fortunate when his top edge off Masters fell safely towards fine-leg.
However, Batty was soon undone by a short-pitched Napier ball that he could only edge to Westley at second slip.
Westley, a part-time off-spinner, deceived Jordan on 46 but the batsman’s attempted pull looped to safety at square-leg.
Jordan brought up his first fifty of the season soon after tea when Surrey continued to accumulate steadily. That was until Meaker smote leg-spinner Tom Craddock over mid-on for six and Jordan followed up with a pulled four.
Masters threatened with the new ball, taken at the earliest opportunity. He bowled Meaker, attempting an expansive drive, for 38 – the seamer’s 100th wicket of the season in all competitions.
The hosts’ opening bowlers discomforted Jordan and Tim Linley, Napier having the former caught behind.
Seeking quick runs, Linley lashed Masters for a third maximum today – over mid-on – but holed out to Adam Wheater at deep midwicket to close the innings.