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Cricket: Surrey duo dominate against Essex

PUBLISHED: 19:09 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 19:09 04 September 2018

Frustration for Peter Siddle of Essex as Rory Burns and Dean Elgar add to the Surrey total (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Frustration for Peter Siddle of Essex as Rory Burns and Dean Elgar add to the Surrey total (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Rory Burns and Dean Elgar compiled a second-wicket stand of 148 to underpin Specsavers County Championship champions-elect Surrey’s first-day ascendancy over reigning champions Essex at Chelmsford.

Sam Cook celebrates with his team mates after taking the wicket of Mark Stoneman (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Sam Cook celebrates with his team mates after taking the wicket of Mark Stoneman (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

The pair weathered an early storm before settling into a patient, but punishing partnership as Surrey sought their eighth Championship win in a row to move inexorably towards the title. Surrey had ground out 256-4 in 96 overs at the close.

In scoring his eighth score above fifty, three of them in the hundreds, the remarkably consistent Burns passed 1,000 Championship runs for the season. It was the fourth time in five years he has reached the milestone; he has hit 1,000 runs in first-class cricket in each of those five seasons.

The Surrey captain’s 90 spanned two sessions and took 217 balls. Elgar kept him company for all but the first 10 overs while scoring 75 from 179 balls before both departed in the space of 11 overs.

The Essex seam attack gave the batsmen a difficult time in the morning after asking them to bat on a strip that had been used in the pink-ball match against Somerset in June.

Simon Harmer in bowling action for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Simon Harmer in bowling action for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

It looked as though a wicket might fall almost every other ball but as it flattened, wicket-threatening balls became almost non-existent, particularly in the afternoon session.

Essex finally gained some reward in the gloom of the evening when Peter Siddle added two more wickets to his bundle of 34 in his seventh Championship appearance for the county. This, though, is his last game before he returns for the Australian domestic season.

Sam Cook had induced three involuntary edges through the slips before Mark Stoneman, on 12, got a thick-ish edge to third slip where Tom Westley took a juggling catch at the second attempt.

It would be another 55 overs and 148 runs before Essex gained a second success. Jamie Porter bowled an accurate and nagging line and length, and Burns did well to dig out a yorker. Simon Harmer, too, got his first delivery to pop up and have Elgar in some discomfort.

Ravi Bopara in bowling action for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Ravi Bopara in bowling action for Essex (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

But Burns rocked on to his back to cut Harmer square for the boundary, his sixth, that took him over 39 and into four figures for the season

Burns reached his fifty soon after lunch, angling a ball from Cook through the vacant third-man area for his eighth four. But he had not added to his score when he edged Porter and the ball flashed through second slip’s fingers. Reprieved, the partnership sped through the century mark in 28 overs.

Elgar followed Burns to his half-century, pushing Siddle to the square-leg boundary for a three. It had taken him 93 balls, with five fours.

But in the same over he was put down by wicketkeeper Michael Pepper, deputising for the injured Adam Wheater. Elgar feared the worse and had already taken a step towards the pavilion.

Simon Harmer celebrates taking the wicket of Dean Elgar (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Simon Harmer celebrates taking the wicket of Dean Elgar (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Burns added his 13th four from the third ball over tea, but his innings ended to the sixth ball when he chopped on to Siddle.

Elgar was next to go, bowled by one from Harmer that turned from middle to off. Harmer celebrated the wicket of his fellow South African as if he had won the FA Cup.

Ollie Pope, who plays the first two days of this match before joining up with the England party for the fifth Test, never looked comfortable. When he had made 21 from 57 balls, he chased one from Siddle to give Harmer the catch at second slip.

Ben Foakes and Will Jacks saw Surrey to the close not out on 24 and 15 respectively.

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