THE LONGEST mile is the last mile home, as the old song has it. Surrey will no doubt agree with that after a fragmented day here yesterday where they found the weather almost as much of a hindrance as Derbyshire's batsmen.
After they had acquired maximum batting points - but only just - Surrey were frustrated by four stoppages for rain as they worked their way through some unprepossessing batting before eventually bowling Derbyshire out in 58 overs.
They were obliged to follow on with an awkward 12 overs left in moderate light. They lost Steve Stubbings who was lbw in Martin Bicknell's second over and clearly must bat with more resilience if Surrey are to be denied, or even delayed today.
Remarkably the pitch had not greened up after its lengthy spell under the covers, but the ball swung enough for Dominic Cork and Phil DeFreitas to upset any thoughts Surrey had of making 400. Indeed, they found themselves still needing two runs for a batting point with their last pair together.
They got them by courtesy of Cork who was no-balled for his second bouncer in an over to Saqlain Mushtaq and promptly declared. Cork looked a bit deprived but could have reflected that in these conditions a swinging yorker or even a swinging half-volley might have been more sensible.
When Derbyshire batted, the ball still swung. But when the medium-paced Jason Ratcliffe broke through, it was with the aid of Adrian Rollins missing an intended pull at a ball that failed to bounce and Steve Titchard indiscreetly going after a wide one.
After that, with Bicknell moving the ball both ways at one end and Saqlain doing something similar but more mysteriously at the other, batting became increasingly problematic with concentration not helped by the stop-start nature of the proceedings.
The left-handed Stubbings, who with his Yorkshire birthright and Australian background, might prove to be the kind of tough character Derbyshire need to hold things together these days, looked the part and batted with great discretion for 41 overs until he was out-witted by Bicknell.
n More than 50 people were injured in clashes between supporters of two local cricket teams in eastern Bangladesh, police said. The witnesses said the violence erupted over an umpire's decision and involved hundreds of fans watching an under-15 match on Wednesday at Ashuganj, 25 miles north-east of Dhaka.