At a sombre Trent Bridge after the news of one of their favourite sons retirement, James Taylor, the game on the outfield is evenly poised.
A century from Arun Harinath and runs for Kumar Sangakkara aided a fine Surrey fightback as the visitors enter the final day with a lead of 76 with five wickets in hand. Harinath, who batted all day, shared a solid second wicket stand of 142 with the Sri Lankan as Surrey looked to secure parity. But when Sangakkara fell to the first ball after tea the hosts sensed an opportunity to press home their advantage. Sangakkara, who was caught behind off the bowling of Jake Ball for 83 became the first man in the over to fall. Three balls later Ball struck again as Read took another routine catch to dismiss Davies for a duck. Suddenly the game was wide open again as Surrey still were yet to reach the hosts first innings total after being invited to bat again. Jason Roy joined the fluent Harinath and played nicely for his 37 striking at more than a run-a-ball before he was trapped leg before by Brett Hutton. By then though Surrey led, albeit by a tiny margin. But whilst Harinath was still there the ‘Rey still felt in control, and he eased his way to a deserved hundred with the close of play in sight. He alongside Ben Foakes took the lead well past 50, before the wicketkeeper became the last man to fall on day three caught and bowled by Samit Patel. But Harinath saw through the day unbeaten on 114 and you feel he will need to add plenty more to that if the visitors are going to escape with a positive result. Nottinghamshire are still firm favourites and you can be sure they’ll want to win this one for Taylor.
Elsewhere, after a damp squib of a day two, Hampshire and Warwickshire continued their battle in the Southampton sun. Hampshire resumed the day on 189-8 and could only add 13 runs before they were all out for 202. Overnight batsman Ryan McLaren who entered the action unbeaten on 84 only added a single to his total before he was bowled by Riki Clarke to end his brave riposte. Clarke then finished the innings off 12 runs later having Fidel Edwards caught by Keith Barker for four. Edwards soon put the disappointment of getting out behind him as he bagged two quick wickets. He removed both openers leg before to leave the visitors 10-2. Suddenly it was game on, unfortunately though for the hosts out strolled Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott to the middle, two batsmen that ooze international class. Bell, taking charge of his first match as captain produced a classy innings consisting of 12 fours on his way to an unbeaten 130 helped his side to a vital lead entering the final day. Trott (27) meanwhile, fell to part-time spinner James Vince in a less than glamorous return to first-class cricket for the former England man. Bell, though did find an ally in current England man Chris Woakes who stayed with his captain to the final ball of the day. The all-rounder made a crucial 66 before falling leg before to the impressive Edwards. You feel this match is heading for a draw, but quick runs in the morning from Ian Bell and Riki Clarke could yet turn this match on its head.
Meanwhile, Durham will have to declare pretty early on tomorrow morning if they are going to force a result after rain meant there was no play possible at Chester-Le-Street on Tuesday. They currently lead by 300, with Keaton Jennings unbeaten on 105.
In Division Two only one game saw any play on Tuesday as Essex closed in on victory at the ECG. Essex were dismissed for 385 before lunch with runs from James Foster (34), Graham Napier (33) and Jamie Porter (20 not out) ensured the hosts held a useful lead of 123. Josh Shaw was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors claiming figures of 4-118 including the wickets of Jesse Ryder and Matt Dixon during the morning session. The Eagles though got off to a dream start after the lunch break as Porter claimed two wickets in consecutive balls in the visitors reply. He first had Australian Cameron Bancroft caught behind, then the very next ball he had Ian Cockbain in the same fashion to leave Gloucestershire in disarray at 0-2. And it was to get worse for the visitors as Matt Dixon got in on the action having Chris Dent caught at square leg after a loose, lazy shot found Tom Westley. Captain Gareth Roderick who was left stranded on 88 in the first innings and Hamish Marshall looked to steady the ship. But the brilliant Porter had other ideas as he produced an absolute snorter of a delivery to knock out Marshall’s off-stump. That left the visitors staring down the barrel at 25-4 and fearing an innings defeat. Benny Howell and Keiran Noema-Barnett (both 21) alongside Roderick chipped away at the deficit though to give the visitors hope of an unlikely draw. When Graham Napier and Ravi Bopara removed Howell and Noema-Barnett though those hopes began to shatter. Essex now expected to be home in time for dinner but hadn’t factored in the Jack Taylor effect. He and his skipper guided the 'shire past the Eagles score with a combination of brutality and patient play. Napier removed the dangerous Roderick (58) as the Gloucester skipper found Cook at slip, but that only allowed Taylor to cut loose. The all-rounder began to flay the Essex bowling attack to all parts of the Essex County Ground pitch on his way to an aggressive 74 which included seven fours and five sixes. Those runs saved the visitors from embarrassment as Bopara removed Shaw and Liam Norwell before Taylor swung at one too many and found Porter at Long on. Taylor’s heroics had at least given the visitors a lead of 93. The hosts had nine overs to at least reduce that target a little before they returned tomorrow. Nick Browne and Alastair Cook safely negotiated those tricky late overs reaching 34 without loss with Browne 25 not out and Cook 4 not out leaving the pair requiring a further 58 tomorrow to secure an early season victory.
Elsewhere, draws are the only likely option at Northampton and Worcester, as rain forced no play to be possible on Tuesday. It means that there hasn’t been a ball bowled yet this season at New Road, whilst Ben Duckett was forced to wait a whole day to add to his total of 282.
Reports by David Bowden (Bowdenwhu)
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