Somerset and Surrey set for an intriguing final day

An exciting and absorbing third day’s play at Guildford saw 17 wickets tumble as Somerset and Surrey set up an intriguing final day of this Specsavers County Championship match.

Needing 267 to win, Surrey closed on 99 for two as Scott Borthwick finished on 35 not out. The batsman added a determined 72 in 27 overs for the second wicket with Rory Burns.

Jack Brooks, who also bowled Mark Stoneman for 12 in his second over with the new ball, struck a potentially crucial blow just before the close, however, when he had Burns, Surrey’s captain, caught at first slip by James Hildreth.

In seam-friendly conditions, under overcast skies, Matt Dunn claimed a career-best five for 43 as Somerset’s last seven second innings wickets fell for 39 as they were bowled out for 153.

Hildreth’s silky 64 from 80 balls, including 11 fours and by far the best batting of the day, had threatened to put the game beyond Surrey’s reach after a hostile new ball spell of 6-2-12-2 from Morne Morkel had removed openers Tom Abell and Marcus Trescothick.

Tom Banton then fell to Dunn, leg-before for 12 on the stroke of lunch, to leave Somerset 50 for three but Hildreth and first innings centurion George Bartlett added 64 for the fourth wicket to put the visitors seemingly in complete control.

Ryan Patel, however, who was last out for a defiant 63 when Surrey slid from their overnight 188 for five to 231 all out, then shaped one into Hildreth’s pads to win a leg-before appeal.

Bartlett, on 16, edged Rikki Clarke to be athletically caught to his right by keeper Ben Foakes.

At the start of the day, Craig Overton’s opening spell of 5-1-12-3 had set the tone for what was to follow, with Surrey losing their last five wickets for 41 runs in 14 overs.

Somerset’s second innings began with Abell and Trescothick, respectively, caught at gully for nine and behind the wicket for 12, although the latter clearly did not think he had touched the ball. Morkel, however, was extracting fearsome lift and, even with an older ball when he was brought back in mid-afternoon, facing the giant South African was not for the faint-hearted.

Morkel, on his return, had Craig Overton caught and bowled for one with his first ball – which spat from just short of a length to take the shoulder of the bat and loop so high into the air that the bowler could run forwards and take the catch just beside the batsman.

Dunn then finished off the innings in some style, having Jamie Overton caught behind for two, trapping Steven Davies leg-before for 16 and, after tea, bowling Jack Leach for five and also swinging one back into Tim Groenewald’s stumps to dismiss him for 10.

Craig Overton’s early morning burst earned him final figures of five for 38 in Surrey’s first innings. Will Jacks did not add to his overnight 13 before edging to second slip, Rikki Clarke steered to gully after a bright and breezy 20 and Morkel miscued to mid on without scoring.

Jamie Overton ended with three for 46, and Groenewald picked up the other Surrey wicket to fall, that of Gareth Batty for a duck, as the seamers of both sides dominated the day.

At the end of another dramatic day James Hildreth said: “It was a tricky wicket and they were swinging it nicely. It was nipping off the pitch too. We feel we’ve set them a decent target and it’s difficult for new batsmen coming in. We will regroup tonight and we need another eight wickets. We have to bowl a bit straighter and try to ask their batsmen questions. We still feel that 168 more is a lot of runs on this pitch, but we’ll see.”

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09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground