LV County Championship – Friday 15th April 2022 – The Oval
It’s back! Last week the start of the county championship was heralded by snow flurries in some parts of England but round two saw the sun shining and very quickly the runs being piled on by the teams batting first. Good Friday turned out to be the hottest day of the year, in fact hotter than Greece at 3pm BST, a perfect opportunity to start my season with a trip to the Oval.
I’d taken the plunge in buying Membership for this season, which gives you unfettered access to the pavilion and all its secret rooms, and the seats up in the Gods which superb views across London. You could quite easily get lost for a few hours looking at the history on the walls of the historic building, which now sits juxtapositioned with the new Galadari Stand.
The headlines may have been dominated by the news that Joe Root had relinquished the England captaincy, or the dozen English players still missing from the start of the county season, playing in the IPL in front of sell out crowds rather than in these green and pleasant lands.
Last season the first part of the County Championship season had been played in front of empty seats, with crowds not allowed back in until late May. Whilst the 4-day game today doesn’t get all the bums on all the seats, a Bank Holiday with decent weather certainly brought a few more in through the gate at The Oval. Surrey had finished day one well set for a big first innings score.
Lunch arrived on day two with Surrey still in control and Will Jacks at the crease. In the white ball game Jacks is a master opening batsmen, one who last season scored a 15 ball half century at Lords in a T20 game versus Middlesex. But here he was, coming in at number seven, needing to show some patient batting, which he did until the 9th wicket fell. And then he showed just how important he is to Surrey.
The tenth wicket partnership was for 49 runs before Jacks fell leg before to Barker. Jacks scored 45 of those runs, with 4 extras. He manipulated the batting, hitting four sixes whilst Hampshire had nine players on the boundary, then finding the singles at the end of the over. Taylor may not have contributed any runs, but faced 14 balls to ensure Jacks got his fifty and was looking good to go on to get his first century of the season. 467 all out.
Hampshire first over saw a no-ball, a dropped catch, a four and a huge shout for a catch behind. Weatherley rode his luck in that first over, but his luck ran out with the first ball of the second over, seeing his stumps splayed by Clark.
Hampshire didn’t appear to get the memo about this being a County Championship game, with over two days still to play. They were scoring at nearly seven an over which was entertaining but nobody was sticking around to build a decent score. James Vince, in a similar vein to Jacks, had a superb T20 season last year, averaging over 75 but here he was coming in at 4 with the score at 49-3. Alas, he lasted a mere eight balls and was swiftly followed by Dawson as the visitors fell to 83-5.
Ben Brown managed to steady the ship, knocking 49 off 76 balls but two late wickets saw them end the day, with the sun still flooding the Oval on 152-7, still over 300 runs behind, with two days still to go. It had been a good day, one that reminded you of the joys of the red ball game and how fantastic it is to sit in the sunshine and watch the match unfold.With the Non-League football season about to enter its final week