Ramprakash left with plenty of work
Greg Smith’s surprise burst of three wickets for four runs gave Derbyshire the edge over Surrey at the mid-point of their opening LV= County Championship clash of the summer at the Brit Oval.
Responding to the visitors’ 451 all out, Surrey slumped to 74 for four until a battling fifth-wicket stand of 109 in 23 overs between Mark Ramprakash and new signing Steven Davies papered over the cracks. Surrey reached the close on 185 for five.
After a first-wicket stand of 44, South African-raised Smith came on at the pavilion end and seamed the ball around beautifully to have Surrey’s new opening pair Arun Harinath and Matthew Spriegel, as well number four Usman Afzaal, all caught in the slip cordon.
Surrey’s troubles worsened when new captain Rory Hamilton-Brown shuffled half forward to a Tim Groenewald off-cutter to go lbw for only nine and bring together run-machine Ramprakash and his new team-mate Davies.
Fresh from scoring an unbeaten hundred and 83 not out on Surrey’s pre-season trip to the United Arab Emirates, Ramprakash showed all his experience in steadying the Surrey innings.
Both he and Davies saw off the new ball before going on the counter-attack, each hitting nine fours in their half-centuries.
Their fun came to a surprise end three overs from the close when Davies, on 51, followed a turning delivery from left-arm spinner Robin Peterson and nicked low to slip where Wayne Madsen took a sharp, low catch to make it 183 for five.
Ramprakash survived through to stumps with 63, but he and his sixth-wicket partner Gareth Batty must dig in further on day three if Surrey are to avoid following on.
Today’s morning session, rather like on the opening day, was dominated by the batting exploits of Derbyshire captain Chris Rogers, who survived a second chance with his score on 182 to reach a 322-ball double century.
Resuming on 178, Rogers should have gone in the fourth over of the day when his miscued pull at a Jade Dernbach bouncer spooned to deep midwicket where, inexplicably, Stuart Meaker spilled a simple chance.
The Australia left-hander went on to hit 27 fours in his seven-hour stay for his third double hundred inside four matches for the county.
He finally went four balls after reaching the milestone and without addition to become the third victim for off-spinner and close-season recruit Batty.
Misjudging the length, Rogers was almost hit on the full by a dipping delivery as he attempted to sweep and was sent packing leg-before.
Andre Nel, who bowled magnificently on day one without taking a wicket, broke his duck by accounting for Graham Wagg and Groenewald in quick succession, the latter to a stunning catch in his right glove by Davies.
But the Derbyshire tail wagged through Mark Footitt, 30, and Lee Goddard, 33 not out, with a 10th-wicket stand of 51 that left Surrey needing 302 to avoid the follow-on.