LV= Insurance County Championship - 28 April

Match drawn

Venue: Seat Unique Stadium

Gloucestershire v Surrey

Day Four

Inclement May Day weather conspired to deny Gloucestershire's Chris Dent the opportunity of establishing a new career-best score when the final day of the LV=Insurance County Championship match against Surrey in Bristol was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Unbeaten on 207 overnight, the Bristolian had his sights trained on the personal best score of 268 he made on this ground against Glamorgan in September 2015. In the event, no play was possible and Gloucestershire, replying to Surrey's mammoth 603, were unable to improve upon their overnight first innings score of 443-2.

Persistent light rain rendered the Seat Unique Stadium outfield sodden and ruled out any chance of play before lunch. No sooner did the ground-staff remove the large covers and commence the mopping-up operation in the afternoon, than the rain returned, ending any further prospect of the match resuming. Umpires Alex Wharf and Ian Blackwell staged a brief inspection at 1.30pm before electing to call the contest off soon afterwards.

With no further bonus points available and the match heading inexorably towards a draw, neither side was too unhappy at the prospect of packing up and returning home in worsening conditions. Of the two, Gloucestershire will no doubt be happier, having claimed 15 points in total, compared with Surrey's 11.

Day Three

Rediscovering his best form when it was most needed, Chris Dent scored a superb double hundred and batted all day to frustrate First Division leaders Surrey and usher Gloucestershire towards safety on day three of this LV=Insurance County Championship match at Bristol's Seat Unique Stadium.

Responding to Surrey's imposing first-innings 603, Gloucestershire reached the close on 443-2, thanks in large part to Dent's defiant knock of 207 not out, an innings spanning eight hours so far. The Bristolian shared a record-breaking opening stand of 296 with Marcus Harris, who raised an impressive 124, and then staged an unbroken third-wicket alliance of 147 with Miles Hammond, his fellow left-hander finishing undefeated on 75.

In the process, Dent passed the notable personal milestone of 10,000 first-class runs, and Gloucestershire attained maximum batting bonus points for the first time this season. They still trail by 160 and will need to summon further resistance on the final day, but any outcome other than a draw is now inconceivable.

It was a chastening day in the field for Surrey, who failed to bank even a single bonus point. Jordan Clark and Colin de Grandhomme shared the slim pickings on offer, yet in reality, only Reece Topley mustered the line and length required to threaten the hosts.

Newcomers to the First Division, Gloucestershire are fast gaining a reputation for dogged resistance in the face of adversity, having conceded significant first-innings deficits in previous matches against Northants, Yorkshire and Lancashire before staging spirited fightbacks on days three and four. Staring down the barrel of a third consecutive defeat when Surrey posted a mammoth 603, the underdogs once again dug deep to defy more illustrious opponents, Dent and Harris batting for five hours to at least avert the threat of following on.

Theirs was a record-breaking stand, the highest for any Gloucestershire wicket in matches against Surrey, surpassing the 285 made by Bev Lyon and Wally Hammond at The Oval in May 1928. They had already eclipsed the previous highest score for the first wicket in matches against Surrey, going past the 219 staged by Sadiq Mohammad and Andy Stovold at Bristol in 1975.

Following hard on the heels of their opening stand of 119, made in a losing cause against Lancashire at Old Trafford last week, these two served up additional defiance in spade-loads to frustrate Surrey after Gloucestershire resumed on 86 without loss.

It said a good deal about the benign state of the pitch that Surrey deployed just two slips for Dan Worrall and Reece Topley at the start of the day, and Gloucestershire's opening pair made serene progress, taking their alliance into three figures and both registering fifties during a morning session which yielded 129 runs. 

Dent was first to a hundred, reaching that landmark via 162 balls, cutting Will Jacks to third man for his 18th boundary. His 19th first-class hundred in all, it was his first since he posted 169 against Derbyshire at Derby in August 2019. 

Harris went to his second century in successive home matches for Gloucestershire in some style, pulling Topley to the mid-wicket boundary shortly after lunch. Dropped by Ollie Pope at slip off the bowling of Topley when on 111, the Australian eventually succumbed to temptation when flashing hard at a ball outside off stump from Colin de Grandhomme and being held by stand-in wicketkeeper Josh Blake, who had been called up overnight to replace the injured Jamie Smith.

Harris had batted for five hours, faced 209 balls, scored 18 boundaries and played his part in an adhesive opening stand that did much to subdue south London ambition. When Jordan Clark encouraged a slanting delivery to straighten up and knock back James Bracey's off stump soon afterwards, Surrey's players had a notable spring in their step, sensing an opportunity to make further in-roads now that one end had been opened up. After all, Gloucestershire still trailed by 306 runs and the second new ball was just a few overs away. 

Having negotiated a challenging initiation on a pitch that still offered something for those who bowled a full length, Miles Hammond quickly set about dispelling any lingering Gloucestershire insecurities, joining forces with the indomitable Dent to see off the new ball. Once able to play more freely again in the final hour, Dent cut Clark to the square leg boundary to reach 164 not out and bring up 10,000 first-class runs, the landmark being greeted by a smattering of applause from county aficionados within a sparse Saturday crowd.

Prevented from deploying Sam Curran as a bowler by a direct edict from the England management, Surrey were deprived of a potentially key option and, not surprisingly, their overworked seamers began to visibly tire in the final session. Dent and Hammond made the most of the situation, keeping the scoreboard ticking over to tap Surrey resolve and edge their side ever nearer to safety.

Dent went to 200 from 375 balls, cutting Jacks for his 27th four to become the first Gloucestershire player to score a double against Surrey since Zaheer Abbas achieved the feat way back in 1976.

Hammond reached 50 off 86 balls with 10 fours, but enjoyed a let-off on 65 when he gave Jacks the charge and Blake made a hash of an attempted stumping. But then it had been that kind of a day for Surrey.


Day Two

A double century from Jamie Smith and a second first-class hundred from Jordan Clark put Surrey in control in their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Gloucestershire at the Seat Unique Stadium, Bristol. 

Unbeaten on 111 overnight, Smith had moved to 234 not out, from 430 balls, with 34 fours, by the time his side were finally bowled out for 603 shortly after tea on day two. 

It was a phenomenal effort of concentration from the 21-year-old, who occupied the crease for nine hours and 28 minutes, sharing a stand of 244 – a record for Surrey’s eighth wicket - with Clark to stifle the life out of a willing, but uninspired home attack. 

Clark provided positive support, making 137 after walking out at 349 for seven, with Surrey just having failed to claim a fourth batting point. He struck 15 fours and 2 sixes in an imposing 177-ball innings. 

By the close, Gloucestershire had replied impressively by posting 86 without loss, openers Chris Dent (45 not out) and Marcus Harris (30 not out) producing an array of positive shots in the face of considerable scoreboard pressure. 

The day began promisingly for the hosts as from 294 for four Surrey lost three wickets for the addition of 55 runs. Sam Curran was first to go, having added seven to his overnight 57 before being caught at gully driving a ball from Ryan Higgins. 

The next delivery saw Colin de Grandhomme bowled by a Higgins no-ball. He was then dropped at slip off the luckless Mohammad Amir before departing for 11, leg-before to Matt Taylor. 

When Will Jacks was caught and bowled by David Payne off a top-edged pull shot for 13, Gloucestershire were well in the game. 

But by lunch, Smith and Clark had added 37 to take the total to 396 for seven, Smith having gone past his previous career-best score of 138, and the afternoon session saw both batsmen dominate. 

Smith went to 150 with a leg-side boundary off Payne and in the same over produced one of the shots of his innings, a glorious straight drive for four that exuded quality. 

Clark brought up his fifty with on off-driven boundary off Amir, the one Gloucestershire bowler to threaten repeatedly, albeit in vain as he finished wicketless. 

Smith’s double hundred was brought up with a flourishing cover drive for four off Miles Hammond, his 30th boundary. It was greeted with warm applause and cheers from the Surrey balcony. 

Clark took two runs through the off-side from the off-spinner to reach his hundred off 151 balls, the second fifty having occupied only 60 deliveries. 

By tea, which was taken at 574 for seven, the partnership had overtaken the previous highest eighth-wicket stand for Surrey in first class cricket, an unbroken 222 between Ben Foakes and Gareth Batty against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in 2016. 

Still Burns wanted more runs on the board and there were five more overs of toil for the home bowlers. 

Some lusty swings accounted for Clark and the tail-enders, Dan Worrall falling to Jack Taylor, who has reinvented himself as a leg-spinner having had his off-spin action deemed illegal back in 2017. 

Surrey’s seamers found it as tough as their Gloucestershire counterparts to make inroads on the slow pitch as Dent and Harris confidently saw out 24 overs to the close. 



Day One

A Surrey fightback led by Jamie Smith gave the visitors the upper hand on day one of the LV=Insurance County Championship match against Gloucestershire at Bristol's Seat Unique Stadium.

Without a score of note in two previous outings this season, the 21-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman from Epsom found his touch to raise 111 not out from 238 balls, holding sway for five hours to help the Londoners recover from a poor start and reach the close well-placed on 294-4.

Having played second fiddle to England batsman Ollie Pope in an alliance of 151 for the fourth wicket earlier in the day, he then shared in an unbroken stand of 106 with Sam Curran as First Division leaders Surrey took control in the final session.

Eager to be a part of England's future under new managing director Rob Key and captain Ben Stokes, Pope weighed in with a notable 84, while free-wheeling Curran served up a late afternoon flourish to finish unbeaten on 57 and issue a timely reminder of his own to the selectors.

Still seeking their first win of the season, Gloucestershire won the toss for the first time in 2022, elected to field and promptly reduced the visitors to 37-3 on a green-tinged pitch. But four dropped catches on a bitterly cold day prevented them from taking advantage of the excellent start afforded them by left arm seamers David Payne and Matt Taylor, who claimed two wickets apiece and made life difficult for the batsmen. A return to county cricket for Mohammad Amir, recruited for the next three games, proved a chastening affair as the Pakistani Test star bowled with express pace but no luck, twice falling victim to fumbles in the slip cordon as the hosts paid the price for not taking their chances.

Gloucestershire will especially regret giving Smith a life on 48, James Bracey going full length behind the stumps without quite managing to hold on, much to the chagrin of the aggrieved Amir. Smith certainly made the most of his escape, staging a crucial recovery in partnership with Pope.

In the wake of a winter of discontent and bitter defeat, few players are guaranteed a place when England meet New Zealand in the First Test at Lord's on June 2. Yet Pope has surely established himself as a surefire selection after his latest meaningful contribution. Accustomed to facing quick bowling on hard Australian surfaces during last winter's Ashes series, the 24-year-old batsman has quickly readjusted to English conditions, coming into this contest with scores of 127, 58 and 47 under his belt. Dropped on 72 by Miles Hammond at slip attempting to work Graeme van Buuren's slow left arm, he took full advantage of Gloucestershire's profligacy and has now accrued 321 runs at an average of 64.2.

Like his fellow Surrey batsmen, Smith was prone to playing and missing outside off stump as the ball moved both ways off the pitch. But unlike those who went before him, he rode his luck and mustered the character, resolve and judgment needed to play himself in. Aided and abetted by the introduction of Jack Taylor's off breaks from the Bristol Pavilion end, he went to 50 via 118 balls, playing a pivotal role in a burgeoning partnership which required 33 overs to realise three figures. 

The stand was worth 151 when Gloucestershire were finally afforded some relief, Pope losing concentration momentarily and clipping a length ball from Payne to Jack Taylor at mid-wicket with the score on 188. But there was no stopping the indomitable Smith, who drove Ryan Higgins straight down the ground to register his fifteenth boundary and, with it, his first hundred of the season. 

Surrey had banked a batting bonus point by the time the second new ball was taken, and they had another in the bag after the aggressive Curran took advantage of a tiring attack to plunder nine boundaries in a 52-ball half century.

Exposed to the worst of the conditions and dismissed relatively cheaply in their first innings in three previous matches, Gloucestershire jumped at the chance to insert their opponents when skipper van Buuren called correctly beneath leaden skies. His decision proved the right one, Surrey's top order struggling to contain Amir's pace and the movement generated by Payne and Matt Taylor during a morning session in which leather dominated willow.

In stark contrast to Pope, Rory Burns has done little to enhance his England credentials in recent times, and the opener again appeared out of sorts as he succumbed to Matt Taylor's first ball, held by Chris Dent low down at second slip for six. 

His season held in abeyance by a particularly debilitating bout of Covid, Payne announced himself by taking a wicket with his first delivery of the season, persuading the ball to nip back off the seam and pin Ryan Patel in his crease for nine.

Hashim Amla never looked comfortable against the moving ball and the South African was eventually squared up by Taylor and caught by Hammond at third slip, at which point Surrey were well and truly under the pump.