Mark Stoneman put a largely forgettable season behind him to lead Surrey’s first day resistance with a superb 99 not out after they had been asked to bat by Nottinghamshire in the Specsavers County Championship Division One match at the Kia Oval.
At stumps left-hander Stoneman had faced 191 balls, with 12 fours, as Surrey reached 256 for 6, with Ben Foakes and Will Jacks, who both made 48, helping the former England Test opener to fashion an impressive recovery from an initial slump to 36 for 3.
And Stoneman was only denied a day one century by an early finish for bad light – and a bizarre 15-minute hold up after Tom Curran was hit on the helmet, underwent concussion protocols and then waited until another helmet, with all the proper protection, could be found to act as a replacement. Curran is on 12 not out in his first championship appearance of the season.
Stoneman was joined in fourth and fifth wicket stands of 90 and 78 respectively by Foakes and Jacks, who will be replaced in Surrey’s team for the rest of this match by Ollie Pope – dropped from England’s fourth Test against India at the Ageas Bowl – if there is no overnight illness in Joe Root’s squad.
Foakes had played calmly and well, hitting eight fours despite conditions in which Nottinghamshire’s quicker bowlers found consistent seam and swing, and it was a surprise when he mishit his 74th ball – from left-arm paceman Luke Wood – to mid on.
Jacks, still only 19, went quickly into double figures by clubbing Wood through square cover for four and then pulling him for six and had hit six fours in all in a 87-ball stay when he was bowled middle stump off a thin inside edge as he pushed outside an off-cutter from Matt Milnes.
Stoneman, dropped by England early this summer after playing in 11 Tests in nine months, fought hard to get through the new ball after early morning rain prevented a start being made until 12.15pm. This was only his second score above 50 in his 14th championship innings, and he was dropped by England after two low scores in the opening Test of the summer, against Pakistan at Lord’s, and a total of just 526 runs at 27.68 from 20 Test innings.
Rory Burns, the country’s leading first-class run-scorer, suffered a rare failure when he was dismissed for 10. Having taken his championship run tally for the season to 961, Burns fell to the first ball of the ninth over, edging a full delivery from Luke Fletcher to keeper Tom Moores. Surrey captain Burns, however, still became the first batsman to top 1,000 first-class runs this season during his short stay at the crease.
Stoneman then saw both Dean Elgar and Ryan Patel depart cheaply, with Elgar being adjudged leg-before to Harry Gurney on 8 and Patel caught behind for 0 pushing defensively at a Wood away-swinger.
From there, though, Stoneman gritted his teeth and with more than a little help from the middle order ensured that title-chasing Surrey, the runaway Division One leaders, gained two batting bonus points so far and a first innings total that keeps them in this game. Rikki Clarke, the other Surrey batsman to fall, was leg-before to Fletcher for 14.