Surrey's attack of late has had rather more chew than bite, but if yesterday is anything to go by the Brown Hats have finally discovered some teeth. Spearheaded by the snarling Andre Nel, who claimed a wicket with the fifth ball of the day, the Surrey attack made serious inroads into the Gloucestershire batting late in the final session.
Nel's fiery approach from the Pavilion End began the slide, when he had Chris Taylor lbw in his second over with the new ball. Jade Dernbach, finally looking like the real deal, then produced a spell of three wickets in eight balls, to wrest the initiative from Gloucestershire. Wicketkeeper Steve Snell was Dernbach's first victim, paying the price for a late push and losing his off-stump; he was followed by Ian Saxelby next ball, bowled by a slower one that he appeared to lose in flight.
Jon Lewis denied Dernbach a hat-trick, but the Surrey bowler quickly found the edge of James Franklin's bat and the left-hander was well taken at second slip. Shortly before all this mayhem James Benning, little more than an occasional medium pacer, had nibbled out two serious thorns in the tender Surrey flesh.
For more than two sessions the home bowlers had toiled as Kadeer Ali and Hamish Marshall, then Alex Gidman, had pummelled their way to chunky half-centuries. That early wicket for Nel, New Zealander Craig Spearman, another lbw victim, heralded a change in fortunes as the Glorious Glosters took charge.
Kadeer and Marshall had taken their second-wicket partnership past lunch and into three figures before they were finally parted, Nel bowling Marshall off an inside edge. That brought out Gidman, who had arrived at The Oval averaging 70 against Surrey in his 10 previous Championship innings. For a couple more hours Gidman helped himself to everything, including Surrey's three spinners, Murtaza Hussain, Chris Schofield and Matthew Spriegel. He saw off the venom of Nel and Chris Jordan and kept out Dernbach.
He and Kadeer had completed a second hundred partnership when Benning entered the fray and had Kadeer, just 10 shy of a deserved hundred, leg before. Gidman was within a run of his average against the Brown Hats, but four deliveries after Kadeer's departure keeper Jonathan Batty took a fine one-handed catch airborne to his right. It was left to Lewis and Vikram Banerjee to steer them safely to the close.Reuse content