Kent’s bowlers got stuck into Surrey’s batting line-up on Day One of their Specsavers County Championship match at the Kia Oval.
Play started an hour late because of a wet outfield, following overnight and early morning rain. If the Surrey batsmen did not know how difficult conditions would be, their innocence was dispelled after just two deliveries.
Harry Podmore found the edge of England opener Rory Burns with the first ball of the day, narrowly dropping short of Sean Dickson at first slip. Podmore did not have to wait long to make up for that. In his second ball of the match, he trapped another England international, Mark Stoneman, plumb LBW to dismiss the opener for a golden duck.
Batting was to remain difficult for most of the day. Even after lunch, when the sun came out and the sluggish outfield quickened, there was still humidity in the Oval air.
Darren Stevens, in particular, was outstanding. Despite probing with his characteristically pin-point accuracy and astute line and length. he failed to take a wicket.
Instead it was Grant Stewart who ultimately proved the most successful, taking three for 84 as Surrey closed on 244-6.
Dean Elgar batted on the longest, with 206 minutes at the crease despite favourable bowling conditions. He was lucky to escape when, on eight, he looked to be LBW to Podmore only to look up and see the umpire signalling a no ball.
In the 14th over, after 53 minutes play, Burns drove a delivery from Stewart – who had replaced Stevens – through the covers for the first boundary of the morning. At lunch, Surrey with much playing and missing, had reached 35-1 from 18 overs, with Burns 18 and Elgar 13.
Surrey lost their second wicket at 73, in the 28th over, when Burns received a nasty delivery from Stewart which lifted and left him, and he edged it to wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson. His 30 had occupied 80 balls.
Elgar, meanwhile, reached his half-century when he clipped Stevens through the leg side for two.
Podmore and Stevens continued to bowl with three slips in place. At 99/3 in the 38th over, Podmore pitched up an deadly in-swinger to tempt Borthwick into an untimely drive; the ball going straight through the gate and bowling him.
Surrey limped to tea on 119-3, with Elgar 62 not out. However, in the second over after the break, he fell LBW to another vicious in-swinger, this time from Grant Stewart to claim his second wicket of the day.
Sam Curran hit six fours and two sixes in a belligerent 43 before he skied a hook to midwicket from Matt Milnes to bring his current Championship wicket total to 35 for the season.
Jamie Smith also fell LBW to Stewart, for this third scalp, for 14. A resolute Ben Foakes was unbeaten on 57 when bad light brought play to an end on Day One with 9.2 overs unbowled.
Kent spinner Ollie Rayner said: “We would have liked a few more wickets out of today. After Stoneman’s leave, which came back about half a foot this morning, we thought we might get through a few more of them.
“But I think the boys stuck at it really well. There was only one stage, with Foakes and Sam [Curran] where they got away from us. And we’re only a couple of overs off the new ball in the morning.
“It will be a big hour in the morning, and then hopefully it will have flattened out for our batters. It will be interesting to see how the pitch goes from here.”
Credit: ECB Reporters’ Network