BY MARCUS HOOK
Rain on the last day against Kent may have denied Surrey the chance to record their first away win in this season’s County Championship, but the Oval outfit still head into a week off atop of Division One – 20 points ahead of second-placed Lancashire, who have a game in hand.
Surrey’s head coach Gareth Batty was pleased with the performance at Beckenham, if not the final outcome.
“It’s something we can’t control,” said Batty. “Would we have got the nine wickets we needed today? Who knows.”
After posting 671-9 declared – the South Londoners’ highest ever total in what is now 283 first-class meetings between Surrey and Kent – the hosts were asked to follow-on after being bowled out for 230.
Off-spinner Will Jacks claimed a first-class career best 4-65 and promptly took the wicket of England’s Zak Crawley when Kent were re-inserted.
But with less than 10 overs of play possible on day four there were no further inroads – the draw enabling Kent to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.
They were, however, forced to spend the best part of two long days in the field as seven of Surrey’s batters posted half-centuries – equalling the record for most in an innings in the County Championship.
“I feel like our batting performance was powerful again,” said Batty. “It was skilful. 671 was a formidable total on a very good batting surface and we needed to get that volume of runs to be able to apply some pressure.
“The way the boys came out and bowled yesterday morning was fantastic and very impressive. There was an intensity that would have been very hard for a lot of people to live with, which is a credit to the bowlers and the fielders. It was something to behold.
“Today it was always going to be very difficult to take nine more wickets, but the weather intervened.
“It was a very good batting surface. I think at times it possibly wouldn’t have looked that way, given the way we bowled, and credit has to go to the big men.
“More than anything I think credit has to go to Will Jacks for the way he bowled. I counted 14 overs straight and there wasn’t anything that resembled anything other than pretty much a perfect ball in a decent area.
“I thought he was magnificent and probably didn’t get the full rewards he deserved.”
Jacks added: “It was really enjoyable, but it was also tough work. I’ve been working hard on my bowling, so it’s nice to have some outcome.
“I’ve bowled on some flat wickets this year, so it was nice to have that theatre around the bat for the first time and I really enjoyed it.
“It’s the first chance I’ve really had on a decently spinning pitch, so I wanted to take advantage. I think I bowled 37 overs [on day three], which is comfortably the most I’ve ever done. I tried to keep my energy up all day and keep the fizz on the ball.”
Jacks believes the potency Surrey are showing with the ball will serve them well when the Vitality Blast makes way for the County Championship again in four weeks’ time.
“We’re carrying a lot of confidence,” said the 23-year-old all-rounder. “We’re fiery as well. We’re not giving up on flat wickets. We’ve got some wins on some easy batting tracks this year. That gives us confidence we can do it.
“Dan Worrall has been outstanding and Jamie Overton keeps steaming in. Even though Jordan Clark didn’t get any wickets [against Kent] he’s bowling with great economy and doing a great job for the boys.”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
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