An entertaining day two in Division One with Somerset and Hampshire both looking hopeful for victories, with things evenly poised Edgbaston.
SURREY v HAMPSHIRE
Surrey’s batsmen showed some character when asked to reply to Hampshire’s Everest of a total at the Kia Oval on Tuesday.
Against the very challenging attack of Kyle Abbott, Fidel Edwards, Gareth Berg and gifted young leg-spinner Mason Crane, the Surrey openers Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns put on 103 before Sean Ervine had the former caught at first slip for 57.
At the close of the second day Surrey were 113 for one in reply to Hampshire’s vast 648 for seven. But Surrey will know that Hampshire, who clearly intend to bat only once in this match, will come at them hard again on Wednesday.
Hampshire resumed on 361 for four and didn’t lose a wicket in the morning. Their dominance was exemplified when the pugnacious Ervine took four fours off a single Sam Curran over, when the bowler’s line strayed to leg.
At lunch Hampshire were 497 for four, having added 136 in the opening session. By the time Surrey took their first wicket of the day George Bailey and Ervine had added 167, the score was 528 when Ervine inside-edged a delivery from Conor McKerr onto his stumps. There had been eight fours and a six in his 123-ball 83.
Bailey had added exactly 100 to his overnight 61 when he was sixth out at 600, caught at long-on as he attempted to wipe yet more pre-declaration runs.
By now, though, everyone was engrossed by the innings from Ian Holland, who at almost 27 is playing in only his fifth first-class match after winning the Cricket Superstar TV reality show in 2012. Holland, who was born in Wisconsin and has been an outstanding club player in Australia, progressed to his maiden first-class fifty and his jaunty unbeaten innings of 58 from 76 balls included three fours.
Hampshire finally declared with the fall of their seventh wicket, Berg, who swatted his way to 35 from 16 balls before he was out having another big heave in the final over before tea.
Surrey’s bowling was at times ordinary over the game’s first five sessions. But this has been a most unhelpful pitch and without their captain – Gareth Batty is injured, along with star batsman Kumar Sangakkara – the attack has lacked experience.
It has featured three teenagers in Sam Curran, McKerr and Amar Virdi, while Tom Curran is still only 22. Mark Footitt, at 31, is hardly callow but when the ball doesn’t swing, and it didn’t here, he is a diminished force. But all of them stuck to their difficult task and only Dominic Sibley, their seventh bowler, could be described as expensive.
"He's just lent on that..."— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) July 4, 2017
Another beauty from Stoneman, this time sending Edwards through the covers. pic.twitter.com/ePtfwTsBMs
YORKSHIRE v SOMERSET
Craig Overton completed his second five-wicket haul of the season in the Specsavers County Championship to ensure Somerset claimed the initiative during Day Two against Yorkshire at Scarborough.
Seamer Overton claimed three of four wickets to fall during a rain-shortened day which saw Yorkshire restricted to 159 for seven in reply to 268. Only 44 overs were bowled, while there was no play possible beyond 3pm.
Overton has been central to Somerset’s recovery in this match, and he now has 20 wickets for the season. He was at the crease after tea on Day One when the visitors were reduced to 207 for nine having elected to bat. But he hit 35 and shared a tenth-wicket stand of 61 with Tim Groenewald.
Since then, Overton and Groenewald have shared all seven Yorkshire wickets to fall, and they now have a chance of claiming a first win of the season at the eighth attempt to ease their relegation worries. They came into this match second bottom in Division One and 29 points adrift of safety.
Twenty-three-year-old Overton was one of five uncapped names in England’s T20 international squad for last month’s series against South Africa. He was the only one who didn’t play, a decision which drew criticism from his director of cricket Matt Maynard.
But Overton looks to have bounced back from that disappointment in the best possible way by leading an attack which is missing his twin brother Jamie due to a back injury. He currently has figures of five for 78 from 23 overs.
Yorkshire started the day on 42 for three with Harry Brook and Tom Kohler-Cadmore at the crease. Overton had Brook caught at second slip by Marcus Trescothick as he fended at a short ball for 31 in the 28th over, the tenth of day two, leaving the score at 71 for four.
Kohler-Cadmore also made 31, with the pair sharing 50 for the fourth wicket. But he was next to go when he also played at a short ball, this time from Groenewald, and could only steer it down onto his thigh and into his stumps. At that stage, Yorkshire were 88 for five in the 40th.
Yorkshire’s stand-in captain Tim Bresnan was next to go eight overs later when he edged Overton to Jim Allenby at first slip for eleven with 105 on the board. No Yorkshire batsman has yet gone beyond 31, although Adil Rashid is unbeaten on 30.
He shared 48 for the seventh wicket with Andrew Hodd, who hit 10 off Overton in the first over after lunch on the way to 28. But Hodd was the only wicket of the afternoon when he was trapped lbw by Overton for 28 as the score fell to 153 for seven in the 60th.
Umpires Tim Robinson and Steve O’Shaughnessy abandoned the day’s play at 4.35pm.
At the close of play, it was revealed Ryan Sidebottom will almost certainly not bowl again in the match following the back/side injury he picked up in Somerset's first innings. He is due to bat, however.
WARWICKSHIRE v MIDDLESEX
Stevie Eskinazi's fourth first-class century, a smorgasbord of the stubborn, the streaky and the stylish, underpinned a solid day's work for Middlesex against Warwickshire in their Specsavers County Championship tussle at Edgbaston.
In reply to the home side's 334, Middlesex closed the second day on 302 for six - a decent position from which to try to build a useful first-innings lead.
They owe that position almost exclusively to Eskinazi, their leading championship run-scorer this season, who ended the day unbeaten on a career-best 178 from 240 balls with 24 fours and three sixes.
With only bit-part support, the 23-year-old has single-handedly left his team eyeing a potential push for victory. At the very least he has kept them out of trouble in a match which bottom-of-the-table Warwickshire badly need to win to boost their slender hopes of avoiding relegation.
It was a far from faultless innings. Fortunate not to perish second-ball, Eskinazi played and missed at plenty and edged plenty more, but he also unfurled some splendid shots with his straight driving a particular treat.
All results remain possible. Whether either of these confidence-shorn sides can summon the power to force victory remains to be seen, but Eskinazi's curate's egg has at least left Middlesex with a chance of cooking up a win.
Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 302 for seven and started crisply as Keith Barker and Jeetan Patel took the score to 330.
But Tim Murtagh's brilliant return catch to dismiss Barker (49, 87 balls, seven fours) triggered the loss of the last three wickets for four runs in 25 balls. George Panayi edged Tom Helm and Murtagh trapped Boyd Rankin lbw to finish with three for 85.
Middlesex's reply began badly when Sam Robson fell lbw to Barker's third ball. Nick Compton then retired hurt on 12, having taking a couple of painful blows on the knee, but Eskinazi and Dawid Malan (39, 62 balls, six fours, one six) added 89 in 22 overs before Malan tried to cut spinner Jeetan Patel's second ball and nicked to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.
Compton then resumed his innings and ground his way to 33 in two hours before edging Rikki Clarke behind. Eskinazi motored on but his partners came and went. Paul Stirling lifted a wide ball from Rankin to Matt Lamb at point before Patel removed John Simpson, caught at short leg, and Ryan Higgins, caught-behind.