Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Kent 35th Match 2022
Surrey 673 for 7 dec (Curran 126, Amla 124, Geddes 124, Jacks 103*) drew with Kent 331 (Bell-Drummond 102, Leaning 75; Lawes 4-51) and 361 for 4 (Bell-Drummond 107*, Denly 69)
When two of the possible results of a first-class match have been virtually ruled out after little more than four of the game’s 12 sessions, the course of the contest is correspondingly limited. Barring unlikely declarations, Surrey’s rapid amassment of 673 by two o’clock on Monday ensured they would neither lose nor tie this game and attention rapidly shifted to the question of whether Kent could save it. It took over 48 hours to answer that question but few of those at The Oval over the past three days were made tired by waiting. The patience of Peter May’s Boys is rather greater than that of their eponymous inspiration when he was asked damn-fool questions by hacks.
The draw will not satisfy Surrey, of course, but after a round of matches in which Hampshire lost and Lancashire drew, their lead at the top of Division One has been extended from three to 16 points. It is a decent return from a game in which they were deprived of the services of Jamie Overton and Reece Topley by international calls and Jordan Clark by a side injury. That trio have taken 52 wickets this season, yet their absence has only stressed the deep resources – and pockets – of a county that can call on Sam Curran and Dan Worrall, a pair who took three of the four wickets to fall on this final day.
Kent will point to the injury problems that have bedevilled them since the start of the season and their gritstone achievement in drawing this game was admirable, especially when one considers the brutalities visited upon their attack by Curran and Will Jacks. Even on a true pitch where Surrey’s lack of a slow left-armer was noticeable, it takes mental strength to face down an enormous score and that quality was shown once again by Bell-Drummond who strolled out to bat after only 11 balls of the morning.
By then there had already been an entertaining overture to our day’s cricket when a late start at 11.50 was delayed for a few minutes by a further squallette of rain. The Kent openers considered the umpires’ removal of the bails licenced them to skedaddle up the dressing-room steps whereas Surrey’s players stayed on the field and waited with the umpires for the monsoon to abate. After less time than it takes to play “Teenage Kicks” (that’s a song, not a video game) the officials waved the batsmen back out but we still lost another over from our initial ration of 83, so Joe Denly and Ben Compton probably considered their departure worth it.
The pair were, though, considerably less chuffed twenty minutes later when they had both been given out leg before wicket and the match had been plunged neck-deep in the hazard. Compton was the first to go when he played around his front dog to Curran, and three overs later, Denly’s pleasing 69 was ended when he was beaten for pace and smacked on the back pad by Dan Worrall.
That was the first of perhaps three passages of play in which Kent’s batting might have dissolved on this final day but Bell-Drummond and Jack Leaning put on 107 either side of lunch before the Kent skipper had his off stump knocked out by a fine ball from Curran which swung in late. Jordan Cox then played the flimsiest innings of the day, his 40-minute 27 being ended after tea when he pulled Gus Atkinson straight to Curran at deep square leg. At that point Kent were 266 for 4 and the last hour had not yet started. However, any talk of late drama was hushed by Bell-Drummond and Ollie Robinson, who had added 95 when Burns called off his mastiffs. In truth, the draw had seemed certain for perhaps 20 minutes and the Surrey skipper confirmed that impression by bowling the last over. A game that had been marked by mountainous achievement and great skill ended on a note of slight farce but we are rarely the worse for a little silliness.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications