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Cricket: Essex draw with defending champions Surrey

PUBLISHED: 17:52 14 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:52 14 April 2019

Essex players surround Simon Harmer to celebrate taking the wicket of Ryan Patel (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Essex players surround Simon Harmer to celebrate taking the wicket of Ryan Patel (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

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A third-wicket partnership of 127 between Rory Burns and Ollie Pope, and a second half-century of the match by Will Jacks, guided Surrey to a draw against Essex at the Kia Oval in the first match of their Specsavers County Championship title defence.

Simon Harmer (centre) of Essex looks on as Nick Browne takes the catch to dismiss Ryan Patel (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)Simon Harmer (centre) of Essex looks on as Nick Browne takes the catch to dismiss Ryan Patel (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Burns fell for 98 and Pope was dismissed for 69 but, with Jacks following up his first innings’ 88 by thumping two sixes and six fours in a solid 54, Surrey batted out the final day to reach 324-6 declared – an overall lead of 271.

Essex off-spinner Simon Harmer plugged away for much of the day to finish with 5-88 from 36 overs and it was the South African who had Pope caught at square leg, Burns taken off the face of his bat at silly point, Ben Foakes stumped for 19 as he advanced down the pitch and, after tea, Jacks well held on the long on boundary two balls after he had completed his fifty with a six launched in a similar direction.

Rikki Clarke remained unbeaten on 25, with Tom Curran keeping him company on 22 not out and hitting Tom Westley’s off breaks for two driven sixes and then a cut four from what proved to be the last three balls of the innings.

Surrey’s declaration enabled them to bowl one over at Essex, who did not manage to score before hands were shaken, thus avoiding an over-rate points deduction.

Simon Harmer of Essex embraces Nick Browne to celebrate taking the wicket of Ryan Patel (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)Simon Harmer of Essex embraces Nick Browne to celebrate taking the wicket of Ryan Patel (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Resuming their second innings just 15 runs ahead at 68 for no wicket, Surrey lost both Mark Stoneman and Ryan Patel inside the first quarter-hour of play.

But Burns and Pope, though not without some early alarms, soon began to take the attack back to the Essex bowlers and had reached an unbeaten 88 and 61 not out respectively by lunch.

Stoneman had added just a single to his overnight 34 before being bowled off an inside edge by Peter Siddle in the morning’s second full over and, in the next over, fellow left-hander Patel was dismayed when, on one, he mis-pulled a short ball from Harmer to mid wicket where Nick Browne took a leaping catch above his head.

At 71-2Surrey were suddenly under a little bit of pressure, and Pope had made just five when he survived a concerted appeal for leg-before by Harmer, after going back to a quicker ball.

Pope, however, was soon skipping down the pitch to drive Harmer through extra cover for four and, with eight fours and a six pulled off seamer Matt Quinn, the 20-year-old raced to a 60-ball fifty.

Burns, who started the day on 34, also batted with fluency on a still-sluggish surface and, when he was fourth out, the England Test opener had faced 166 balls, hitting 13 fours, while Pope’s sparkling innings occupied just 80 balls with a six and 11 fours in total.

Surrey, who totalled 395 in their first innings, take 11 points from the draw, while Essex – who replied with 448 – will be happy to have banked 13 points after being defeated by Hampshire in the opening week.

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