Surrey 239 and 77-2
Derbyshire 207 (Rutherford 59)
Surrey lead by 109 runs
There is a big first session at the 3aaa County Ground tomorrow, with Derbyshire needing wickets to take back the initiative that they surrendered today.
After rising at 4am and leaving at 5, I got to the ground in time for the start, which was surprisingly prompt, considering the heavy rain showers I drove through not too far away. In all honesty, the Derbyshire batting was a little anaemic, albeit in conditions that helped the seam bowlers, as first session tracks tend to do at Derby.
Several batsmen were guilty of hesitant footwork and loose shots. That takes nothing away from the visitors who bowled steadily (especially Nottinghamshire loanee Luke Fletcher), but they didn't have to work unduly for some of their rewards.
The best batting came from Hamish Rutherford. I thought him quite like Michael Di Venuto in build and stance, though there is a bit of the Dave Warner in the way he punishes the bad ball. Strong off his legs like all the best left-handers, he was punishing if anything was short or over-pitched, though obviously disappointed with himself when he too rather gave it away when he was looking set. Previously he had looked a very well organised player.
On the basis of one viewing, I would happily take him for next summer. He is at a stage of his career where Martin Guptill was when he first came, eager to impress and with a point to prove to get into his national side. If he came here next summer and scored a thousand runs, he would make that point quite emphatically. On the basis of his play on an awkward track, he could do that if he cashes in when conditions are more favourable.
Only Wes Durston, who batted well before also playing a loose shot, and Tony Palladino, who clumped merrily in an important last wicket stand with Mark Footitt, suggested permanence thereafter. A first innings lead of even fifty would have been handy, but we surrendered one of 32, which could gain in significance as the game goes on.
There were two spectacular clean bowleds for Mark Footitt, amid some close shaves for others in the Surrey second innings, but we need to take advantage of the first session conditions tomorrow. If the visitors gain a lead in excess of 250, recent track record doesn't suggest we will chase with any confidence.
Stranger things have happened, but we need to bat much better than we did today. I still maintain that winning this one keeps us in the promotion shake-up, but a loss would leave too much to make up and, I think, only respectability to play for.
We will have a better idea by this time tomorrow.
For now, good night. Don't mind admitting that I am shattered tonight after that early start...