A batting masterclass from Jonathan Trott, who scored the 41st first-class century of his career, led Warwickshire’s resistance against Surrey at the Kia Oval.
Surrey were on course to wrap up victory inside three days when they took four middle-order wickets in 11 overs after lunch to reduce Warwickshire, who had followed on 363 runs behind, to 181 for 6.
But Trott batted for over six hours to compile an unbeaten 141 as Warwickshire closed the third day on 322 for 7, still trailing by 41.
The 35-year-old reached his century in the first over after tea by which time Keith Barker, coming in at No.8 but with six first-class hundreds to his name, was giving him valuable support. Barker had a life just before tea when he was dropped by Rory Burns at slip on 13.
Surrey had held their catches in this match but that miss proved expensive as he and Trott negotiated the new ball and then proceeded to give Warwickshire a period of superiority for the first time in the match. They added 124 in 42 overs for the seventh wicket with Barker contributing 57 until he missed a straight one from Gareth Batty.
A single off Batty had taken Trott to his second hundred of the season after he took 130 off the Oxford MCCU students last week. This was a much sterner test but the 35-year-old’s composure and powers of concentration show no sign of receding.
It was hard to recall a false shot, never mind the semblance of a chance. His first 50 came off 115 balls and he had to regroup several times during the afternoon as wickets fell at the other end.
Surrey had made an excellent start by claiming openers Will Porterfield (19) and Alex Mellor (14) within five overs. Porterfield was pinned in front by Sam Curran off the 11th ball of the day and Mellor caught at slip poking tamely outside off stump at Jade Dernbach.
It was no surprise that Trott and skipper Ian Bell, Warwickshire’s most experienced and reliable batsmen, then held Surrey at bay on a pitch which remained fairly true, although by the end the odd delivery was keeping low and Batty was getting some turn.
In contrast to his partner, Bell was prepared to go on the attack at every opportunity and he soon launched into some trademark cover drives, including two in successive balls off Sam Curran which sped to the fence.
But having hit ten fours in his 64 from 94 balls, and added 103 with Trott for the third wicket, he fell to a superb diving catch at second slip by Scott Borthwick when left-armer Mark Footitt, whose six wickets on the second day had help skittle Warwickshire for 91, angled the ball across him.
With the breakthrough made Surrey’s seamers stepped up. Tom Curran removed Tim Ambrose for his second duck of the match and Rikki Clarke (6) during an excellent spell while Sam Hain was leg before to the impressive Dernbach.
At 181 for 6 and still trailing by 182 runs Warwickshire were staring at an innings defeat but Trott showed no intention of being dislodged.