Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire director of cricket, sees no point in preparing a pitch that will play to a meandering draw, and accepts that losing the toss is such a routinely occupational hazard that five down for not very many raises little more than a knowing smile.
Then again, he has witnessed as many recoveries as collapses when the early breaks go against Nottinghamshire, usually involving his captain, Chris Read, and therefore 84 for five from 23 overs after Surrey had won the toss and chosen to bowl on a green-tinged pitch was a cause for only passing concern.
His confidence was not misplaced. Three stoppages for rain, the last of them terminal after only 42 overs, only added to the hazards of variable bounce for Read and the Australian batsman, Adam Voges, in a partnership that has had four starts yet is worth 94 runs so far, leaving Nottinghamshire 178 for five going into the second day as the title race shapes into potentially a two-horse race with Warwickshire.
The sixth-wicket pair rattled along, in keeping with the pace of the innings overall, scoring their runs off 108 balls. Read has 49 from 63 balls with eight fours. The Notts captain clocked up 11,000 first-class runs for the county during the match against Middlesex at Uxbridge last week. He has compiled 63 first-class half-centuries in 225 matches for the county, turning 19 of them into centuries, and more often than not it has been in circumstances similar to these.
Surrey may feel they should have done better, however. It was clearly a good toss to win but they are a side at a low ebb, not surprisingly. In addition to the absence of their captain, Rory Hamilton-Brown, who remains on indefinite compassionate leave, they are still missing the England fast bowler Chris Tremlett, who is still not strong enough for back-to-back Championship matches, as well as Jade Dernbach.
The colour of the pitch persuaded them to leave out off-spinner Gareth Barry, who had been standing in as captain, to accommodate an extra seamer in a side led this time by Zander de Bruyn, but the quartet used collectively struggled for accuracy and only Chris Jordan conceded at fewer than four runs per over.
Jordan took the wicket of Michael Lumb with a ball that kept low from the pavilion end, while the inconsistencies in the surface contributed to the dismissals of Alex Hales and James Taylor, too.
Riki Wessels, who had seemed in one-day mode with 23 off 23 balls, edged Tim Linley to first slip, while Samit Patel miscued an attempt to play Stuart Meaker over midwicket and was caught behind.Reuse content