The weather once again played its part on a day that saw a masterly century by Somerset opener Marcus Trescothick at the Kia Oval.
The 40-year-old scored his 59th First Class hundred and provided the main resistance on the third day, which was interrupted for an hour just after lunch when sleet and snow swept over the ground. Further rain prevented Surrey from beginning their second innings after they had established a lead of 110 by bowling Somerset out for 353.
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Trescothick’s 127, made in a shade under five hours, was the cornerstone of Somerset’s resistance. There were also useful lower-order contributions from Peter Trego (41), Craig Overton (44) and Lewis Gregory (47 not out) as the visitors avoided the follow-on and collected four batting bonus points.
Trescothick, resuming on 68, was soon back into his stride and looked unperturbed by either seam or spin as he took his aggregate to 590 runs from his last five Championship innings. His 45th hundred for Somerset, which he reached with a single off Mark Footitt, left him two behind Viv Richards and four behind Harold Gimblett in Somerset’s all-time list.
But while Trescothick was making serene progress, life was tough at the other end for the Somerset batsmen. On his way to a second successive five-wicket haul, Ravi Rampaul bowled Chris Rogers via an inside edge and strangled James Hildreth down the leg side in his first spell.
There was also some slow turn out of the footholds for Surrey spinners Zafar Ansari and Gareth Batty to exploit. Ansari’s arm ball accounted for Roelof van der Merwe before lunch and Batty bowled well throughout the truncated afternoon session, removing Trescothick before ending the innings with the wickets of Jack Leach and Tim Groenewald.
Trescothick had found a reliable ally in Trego and they added 75 either side of lunch before Trego was caught behind half-forward to Rampaul. That was the first of three wickets in three overs. Trescothick’s dismissal came after he had faced 213 balls, hitting 20 fours and a six, and he was quickly followed by Ryan Davies who drove to mid-wicket.
Somerset were 239 for 7 at that stage but the depth in the batting was demonstrated by the confident way Gregory and Craig Overton attacked the new ball as they put on 71 in 18 overs either side of tea for the eighth wicket.
Mark Footitt was forced out of the attack in the middle of his 22nd over after going down clutching his side but Rampaul returned to have Overton superbly caught at extra cover by the diving Ansari.
Shortly after the close of play Marcus Trescothick, who has now overtaken Peter Wight to become Somerset’s second highest First Cass run scorer, said: “We have been talking about getting ahead of Peter Wight’s record for a little while now so it was nice to have passed it at last. It was just a shame that Peter passed away in the winter, and wasn’t about, but I sure he is looking down and wishing me well.
“I had to work hard for the hundred today. Being in the position that we were in we had to bat hard and try and dig out as much as we could, but I am delighted to have got past Peter’s record and obviously to get a hundred to help the team.
“We had a couple of good lower order partnerships today, Lewis got 47 and Craig Overton played a nice knock for 44 so we have scrapped hard in this game and this sets it up for tomorrow.”
Looking to the morning Marcus said: “We have got a bit of work to do still in this game and I don’t know what they will try to do now to try and set up a game. Footitt has gone off injured in the last session so I don’t know whether that will change things at all, but we will wait to see tomorrow what they are going to do.”
Craig Overton said: “It was freezing cold and then we had snow and sleet, so it wasn’t very pleasant out there, but you have to deal with the conditions and I thought we showed our fighting characteristics.
“The possibility of following-on was looming and the partnership I had with Lewis Gregory was important. I’m working on surviving when I need to survive and getting a good balance between attack and defence and I was able to play a few shots once I’d got in.
“Tres (Marcus Trescothick) batted really well and scored another hundred and hopefully he’ll continue doing that for the rest of the season.