• Specsavers County Championship 3m

    Youngsters star in top-of-the-table clash

    Teenagers Dan Lawrence and Amar Virdi both enjoyed days to remember at Chelmsford before heavy rain and bad light curtailed play

    Teenagers Dan Lawrence and Amar Virdi both enjoyed days to remember at Chelmsford before heavy rain and bad light curtailed play 26 overs early.


    On his Surrey debut, 18-year-old offspinner Virdi had tied up an end for 24 overs on the first day without success or luck, but showing plenty of unfulfilled promise. That promise was realised when he struck twice in one over either side of lunch for his maiden first-class wickets. He finished with three for 82.

    Surrey seamer Tom Curran said of Amar Virdi’s three-wicket debut: “For a young lad to come in on Championship debut and perform the way he did was fantastic. He wasn’t bothered by the environment at all. He got turn, he got good players out and bowled a lot of overs. He didn’t go for runs, and for him he must be very proud of that. It’s the start of a very exciting career.
    “Coming in as a young lad there would have been nerves, but after those first couple of overs he settled in. Today he showed what he is about, and a glimpse of what he can be. He got a couple of big wickets, and most importantly he bowled a lot of dots and for a long period. That allowed our seamers to rotate from the other end."

    When play on the third day of the top of Division One clash was brought to a premature halt at 4.55pm, Surrey had overhauled Essex’s 14-run first-innings lead and were 41 ahead for the loss of Mark Stoneman’s wicket.

    Lawrence laid the foundation for Essex’s 383 with his second Championship century of the season. He was out for 107 from 208 balls, after which lively half-centuries by Ryan ten Doeschate and Neil Wagner carried on his spade work.

    Lawrence and Ravi Bopara had taken Essex’s fourth-wicket stand to 106 in the morning before Tom Curran got the second new-ball to cut back and take out Bopara’s off-stump, the batsman offering no stroke.

    Lawrence accelerated through the nineties with two fours clipped through mid-on off Rampaul, the second going along the ground and right through Tom Curran’s hands, before a single took him to 99. A controlled angled shot through gulley off the same bowler brought up his three-figures from 199 balls with 15 fours.

    However, Lawrence went eight balls later, in Stuart Meaker’s second over of the day, moving early across his stumps and being rapped on his back-pad. The kick at the ground as he turned to walk off showed his frustration.

    Ten Doeschate and Foster put on an entertaining 49-run partnership for the sixth wicket, their characteristic scampering turning singles into twos, twos into threes. They even turned a three into an all-run four, courtesy of an overthrow to the wicketkeeper’s end.

    Meaker strayed three times in an over to ten Doeschate, the third one a full-toss, and three times he was thrashed through the off-side to the boundary. Foster, too, was severe on Meaker, pulling a short ball for four, and then cutting Ravi Rampaul for another.

    Enter Virdi. The England Under-19 spinner claimed wicket No1 with the ball before lunch when he bowled Foster through the gate. With the final delivery of the over interrupted by the break, he tossed one up to Simon Harmer who over-stretched and was stumped by Ben Foakes.

    Ten Doeschate reached his fifty off 75 balls when he pushed Virdi into the on-side for a single before becoming victim No3. Coming around the wicket, Virdi had the Essex captain pinned right in front for 53.

    Virdi had bowled 34 overs at this point and no one had really got after him. But Wagner hit him out of the attack by thumping him straight for two one-bounce fours in an over, and followed it with two more in the next.

    Wagner reached his first fifty for Essex, the seventh of his career, by fending a short-pitch ball from Rampaul past the slips to the boundary. But he departed in the same over, caught at slip by Kumar Sangakkara. The innings ended without a run added when Matt Quinn was clean-bowled by Meaker, who finished with three for 73.

    Surrey were aided by two early dropped catches in their second innings, both off Jamie Porter. Stoneman, on four, was the first recipient of good fortune when Lawrence failed to hang on in the gulley, and then ten Doeschate flew to his right at mid-on and floored Rory Burns, who had eight. Stoneman finally went for 28 after the pair had put on 50 in 12 overs when Alastair Cook took him low down to his left to give Wagner his first wicket of the match.

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