Notts quicks show Surrey not yet up to pace

Surrey 225 (Bird 4-56) and 14 for 0 trail Nottinghamshire 446 by 207 runs

Jackson Bird made new-ball inroads which started a tough day for Surrey © Getty Images

Ben Foakes admitted Surrey have struggled to adapt to the standard of Division One cricket over the opening couple of days of the season.

Foakes, the Surrey and England Lions keeper, top-scored for his side but was unable to prevent them conceding a first innings lead of 221 against Nottinghamshire. Surrey, promoted this season after two years in Division Two, were subsequently obliged to follow-on before they were given some respite by poor weather that cut more than 20 overs from the day.

Conceding that the Nottinghamshire seamers constituted “the best attack I’ve faced,” Foakes – playing the first Division One match of his career – also accepted that, with bat and ball, Surrey had been outplayed over the first two days.

“It is a step up,” he said. “There were a lot of good balls around and a couple of poor shots. Notts bowled really well and just hammered away at a length.

“You’ve got to value your wicket more in Division One but there were a lot of good balls and you’ve got to admit we were generally outplayed today. It’s the best attack I’ve faced.

“It’s probably a 280-ish sort of wicket, but on day one they scored too many. There wasn’t one day last season when we bowled with that lack of consistency. Today we needed one guy to stand up and none of us did.”

Foakes was one of those with little reason to chastise himself. Defeated by a fine delivery from Harry Gurney that swung in and nibbled away off the pitch, he was caught behind after an innings containing some elegant stokes but also some watchful defence. Kumar Sangakkara was also the recipient of a fine delivery that forced a stroke and nipped away to take the edge of the bat.

But several of their team-mates – not least Jason Roy and Arun Harinath – may reflect that, having established themselves, they played a part in their own downfall. Roy, who made all 28 of his runs in boundaries, had demonstrated admirable patience in waiting for the correct ball to attack but appeared to lose patience and attempted to whip a straight one through midwicket.

Harinath’s eyes lit up when he received a wide delivery but, in attempting to hit it too hard, Harinath – both feet off the ground – edged to slip. Rory Burns will also regret a footless prod at one angled across him that he could have left.

While Jackson Bird finished as the highest wicket-taker – he finished off the innings in successive balls and started the Surrey second innings on a hat-trick – Jake Ball was probably the pick of the bowlers. Watched by ECB coaches Kevin Shine, who was especially impressed, and Graham Thorpe, Ball swung the ball both ways and gained steep bounce from an understandably sluggish surface. Reinforcing the view that he has added pace over the winter, Foakes rated him – and the unfortunate Gurney – as the quickest members of the attack.

Gurney might have had several more wickets but saw Greg Smith dropp two chances at third slip – neither completely straightforward – to reprieve first Sangakkara (on 27) and then Roy (on 4). Gurney himself then missed an easier chance off Brett Hutton at mid-on when Tom Curran had 16. Nottinghamshire also failed to take a run out chance offered by Foakes on 38 – Chris Read and Bird combining to miss the opportunity – though it did not cost them.

Still, to have fared so well despite such errors can only bode well. And with Alex Hales, James Taylor and Stuart Broad all becoming available – for a while at least – in the coming weeks, there is reason for some optimism at Trent Bridge.

It was probably bound to take Surrey time to acclimatise. They won only one game in their last season at this level – and that against Derbyshire, the other relegated team – and are learning the level of consistency and discipline required. They have the quality to adapt, but lack a bit of experience and a bit of patience.

There was some encouraging news for Surrey. Zafar Ansari, the left-arm spinning all rounder, has been named in the club’s second XI team to play in a match starting on Wednesday. It will be his first appearance since he suffered a broken thumb in the Championship match against Surrey towards the end of the 2015 season. The injury, coming just hours after he was named in the England Test squad to the UAE, kept him out of the series. Surrey hope he may be available for their next Championship match, which is against Somerset and starts on April 24.

Foakes’ performance is also noteworthy. It is clearly a little premature to be thinking of him as an international player of the near future – he has only just become a first choice keeper at county level – but he has out-kept the ever-impressive Read in this match and, having taken the gloves for the Lions, might be considered first reserve to Jonny Bairstow while Jos Buttler is away at the IPL. If Bairstow were to suffer an injury, therefore, Foakes could find himself promoted earlier than anticipated. It wouldn’t be ideal, but he does look an unusually promising player.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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