Centurions aplenty at Oval’s flat track as Burns shines bright

(Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

By Jeremy Blackmore

Stand-in skipper Rory Burns proved to be Surrey’s man for a crisis after batting for almost five sessions for a magnificent, career-best unbeaten 219 to take his side to the brink of safety after a “ruthless” Hampshire batting performance raised the spectre of an innings defeat.

Burns was thrown the captain’s armband just minutes before the toss after Gareth Batty suffered a calf injury during warm-up, the second such blow to afflict Surrey this week after Kumar Sangakkara’s hand injury during Saturday’s cup final heartbreak at Lord’s.

Hampshire piled on the agony, making hay on a slow, flat Oval pitch offering little assistance to the bowlers. Three men recorded centuries and taught a few harsh lessons to a youthful Surrey attack featuring three teenagers.

With Surrey head coach Michael Di Venuto calling on his batsmen to step up in Sangakkara’s absence, Burns showed huge maturity as he posted his first century of the summer, well supported by Mark Stoneman, Dominic Sibley and Tom Curran with valuable fifties.

Despite a lack of discipline early in the game, Di Venuto was pleased with the way his bowlers responded on day two: “We’re not going to hide behind the fact we’ve got a young bowling attack. But they’re also very talented. We fought but Hampshire played exceptionally well.

“We responded pretty well, so I was happy. Certainly not satisfied. We need to get better. We’re young, we’re improving and we’re pretty quick learners. You can’t buy experience on the shelf; there’s only one way they get it and that’s by playing.

“They’re all good enough to be out there. In three years’ time, they’re still going to be young and still leading our attack and playing for their country, so age is irrelevant.”

Hampshire head coach Craig White was encouraged by the way his side backed up their first day dominance to post such a huge total: “Everyone got stuck in. I’ve asked for them to be ruthless and that was probably the first time we’ve been pretty ruthless for a while, which was encouraging.”

But after Surrey fell just short of avoiding the follow-on, Burns again batted with resolve to force the draw.

Result: Surrey (483 & 166-3d (f/o)) drew with Hampshire (648-7d)

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