Solid start for hosts on day one
Somerset Captain Tom Abell backed the decision to bowl first as Surrey’s top four built a solid platform on day one of the top of the table Specsavers County Championship clash at Guildford.
Rory Burns (66) and Scott Borthwick (83) made half-centuries and Arun Harinath and Ryan Patel both contributed 48 before Ollie Pope hit an undefeated 73 as Surrey closed on 351 for five.
Cloud cover and a green-tinged pitch encouraged Somerset to bowl first and their seam attack kept plugging away in steamy heat. On another day they would have enjoyed considerably more success as the ball frequently beat the bat.
Somerset named both Dom Bess and Jack Leach, who was back in the side five weeks after breaking his thumb, and Bess had Surrey debutant Theunis de Bruyn caught at short cover for a third-ball duck.
Burns and Harinath had laid the foundations with an opening stand of 83 in 27 overs. Harinath was then trapped lbw by Tom Abell, playing across a straight one.
Burns, the leading scorer in Division One this season, continued his prolific form by taking his aggregate to 566 runs in a stand of 75 either side of lunch with Borthwick but he eventually fell lbw to Lewis Gregory.
It took a superb delivery from Tim Groenewald, which nipped back to hit off stump, to remove Borthwick for 68 and there was further encouragement for Somerset when they removed de Bruyn, who has been recruited for two Championship games, in the next over.
Pope became the second Surrey batsman to pass 500 runs this season and his first 24 runs came in boundaries as he put on 50 for the fifth wicket with Patel before Abell picked up his second wicket when Patel drove loosely and was caught behind.
Somerset took the new ball straight away but Pope reached a 60-ball half-century with his tenth boundary.
At the end of the Day Somerset skipper, Tom Abell said: “We always felt that we were in the game, although perhaps we didn’t quite get as many wickets as we might have wanted.
“During the day I think that we beat the bat consistently but they didn’t quite go to hand which can happen. I can’t fault the effort of the boys. They were top drawer.
“I still think it was the right decision to ask Surrey to bat first. We beat the bat a lot especially this morning, but the ball got soft and they are entitled to play well as well. However, I still think it was the right decision looking at the wicket. There is plenty of grass on it and the ball seamed about all day.
“There wasn’t really any spin, although the spinners stuck to their task really well and had to contain at times. We were looking to keep it as dry as we could out there on a difficult ground to defend with a quick outfield and I thought our spinners played their role really well.
“We beat the bat a lot and if a couple of those had taken the edge then it would have been different. Equally if you apply yourself, there are runs to be scored, which their batters showed today. We will back ourselves with bat in hand.”
Looking ahead Tom said: “They are in a good position, so with a relatively new ball it’s important that we pick up a couple of early wickets. When our opportunity comes with the bat we need to work on it, apply ourselves and earn our right to score runs.
“We have seen a number of times this season how things can change, so we are ready for all eventualities and are going to be positive with three days to go.”
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