If Surrey reached a nadir when they were bowled out for 130 by Kent last week, maybe it was the jolt they needed. In the wake of their lowest total at the Oval in almost nine years, they yesterday became the first to score 400 on this ground this season and then dismissed the home side for little more than half that total, giving the match between top and bottom in the First Division an altogether upside-down look.
They have Nottinghamshire, two down and still 139 behind following on, by the scruff of the neck. Had two-thirds of the first day not been lost to the weather, they could anticipate their first win of the season with few doubts.
Even so, the erstwhile leaders will still need to show some backbone today, although at times yesterday they appeared to be not so much spineless as brainless. If the scorecard suggests a pattern, with five Nottinghamshire men out between 33 and 42, it does not mislead.
Of that quintet, only Will Jefferson may have felt safe to make eye contact with his manager. Matthew Wood and Adam Voges were both caught behind down the leg side to Jade Dernbach, while Samit Patel and Graeme Swann paid the price for taking liberties with the spinners.
Patel, aiming for long on, was caught by the wicketkeeper in the region of backward point; Swann, already riding his luck against Saqlain Mushtaq, hit a streaky six over midwicket off the former Pakistan finger spinner, then tried to hit the next ball for another, this time picking out Chris Jordan on the rope. There is an argument for playing positive cricket but this seemed to border on recklessness, more so given that his side were still 38 short of avoiding the follow-on.
Patel's wicket was a first in the Championship for Matthew Spriegel, a 21-year-old just graduated from Loughborough University, who bowls off-spin. It has been a good match for him. On Saturday he made his maiden half-century.
Nottinghamshire's Darren Pattinson finished with 5 for 72 but Jordan and Saqlain also posted 50s as Surrey's tail wagged strongly.
The second innings began badly for Nottinghamshire, Dernbach nipping one back to bowl Jefferson for a duck. It recovered well until, in the penultimate over, Mark Wagh became the third batsman of the day to be strangled down the leg side, giving a wicket to the deserving Pedro Collins.Reuse content