Surrey in strong position to tighten grip at top of County Championship Division One

BY MARCUS HOOK
Surrey are well on their way to tightening their grip at the top of the County Championship Division One table, following a dominant performance with both bat and ball on the opening day of their match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
The unbeaten league leaders bowled their hosts out for just 210 in only 54 overs and, by stumps, had built a lead of 13 thanks to openers Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman.
A measure of Notts’ disappointment could be gauged from the fact that Harry Gurney, batting at number 11, top-scored with an unbeaten 29.
Morne Morkel, who did most of the damage, picking up 4-60, said: “It was a very satisfying day, especially having asked them to bat first. Obviously the pressure is then on us to get the ball in the right area and bowl them out, but I thought we stuck to our guns quite nicely.
“The ball did move around a little bit. On this wicket, with small boundaries your margins for error are quite small. But the thing for us was to block that out, not think about it, stick to our plans and strengths and we did that quite well.
Jade Dernbach, Sam Curran and Rikki Clarke shared the remainder of the wickets before Burns and Stoneman then put things into context by rattling their way to an opening stand of 147 as Surrey reached 223-1 at the close.
Morkel added: “Back home we always had a three-man attack, when I was playing for South Africa, so it’s so nice to have an extra option, an extra seamer.
“We had a tough couple of days with a lot of travelling, due to the T20 stuff. We could have been forgiven for having lethargic bodies, but the guys did so well after the captain asked us to put our hands up this morning.”
Burns closed on 97 not out, with Stoneman having made 86 from only 83 balls, his highest score of the summer.
“To knock them over and then have a solid start was the most important thing. I’m just so happy for Mark (Stoneman) he’s been working so hard on his game and Burnsy is our skipper and he continues to lead from the front,” said Morkel, who has now taken 20 championship wickets at an average of just 15.35.
AN OVER OF STATS
Ball 1 – Surrey appear to be well on their way to a sixth victory in the County Championship. The last time they achieved that, in Division One, was back in 2003.
Ball 2 – This Friday they play host to Somerset in the T20 Blast at the Oval, where the hosts have won six out of their seven meetings with the Cidermen, including each of the last five in SE11.
Ball 3 – Somerset’s solitary T20 title was clinched at the Oval, back in 2005. It’s the only time the famous ground has hosted T20 finals day. Surrey’s campaign ended that year in the first semi-final, which Lancashire won by 22 runs.
Ball 4 – Somerset are the only side in this summer’s T20 without a batsman who has scored 200 runs or more or a bowler with in excess of five wickets.
Ball 5 – Surrey’s overseas player Aaron Finch is now 11th in the list leading run-makers in Twenty20 history. The 31-year-old, who now has 7,223 T20 career runs, overtook fellow Aussie Shane Watson’s 7,011 during his 131 not out against Sussex at Hove.
Ball 6 – Aaron Finch is one of only two batsmen in this year’s T20 Blast to make 50 or more at every time of asking. The other is Yorkshire’s Joe Root, who has only batted the once, making an unbeaten 51 against Lancashire. Finch’s record reads 58, 131 not out and 83.

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