SURREY lost an important toss here yesterday and their hopes of gaining ground in the Championship race suffered accordingly. They had a miserable day and, after a certain amount of indifferent batting, it was asking a lot of their bowlers to get them back in contention.
By then, anyway, a pitch that had started out damp and softish had dried out and the ball was cascading to all parts off the middle of John Morris's bat. His half century off 59 balls contained many a rousing blow through the covers.
Morris has recently given up the Derbyshire vice-captaincy. There has been no public explanation for this but there are many private theories. One is that he simply wanted to unclutter his mind in order to emphasise his claims for selection for the winter tour of the Caribbean. If that is so, this little virtuoso display did nothing to suggest he was wrong.
The ball still moved about enough in the evening gloom to pose problems even for Morris, who was missed at slip at 62, though earlier Surrey, with no recent form to speak of, clearly needed someone to get on the front foot, put his head down and graft for runs. Instead, with the ball swinging and moving off the seam, one batsman after another shuffled into leg before verdicts of one kind or another.
Some might have been more marginal than others and it may be that when you spend half the season whacking the bowling around off the back foot at The Oval adjustment can take time. But the innings seemed to have the kiss of death over it from the moment Darren Bicknell was adjudged leg before to the second ball of the game. Both Paul Atkins and David Ward then paid the penalty for negligible footwork against Ole Mortensen, who beat the bat so often that Peter Bowler, leading Derbyshire for the first time, kept him going for 14 overs; the Dane later disappeared with a mixture of groin strain and mental fatigue.
His absence and a mild dose of flu which reduced Dominic Cork's firepower was the only logical explanation for the need to bowl spin in these conditions. For a while Surrey incongruously tucked in at one end and struggled at the other where Allan Warner winkled out his third successive five-wicket haul.Reuse content