Kent 147 for 2 (Bell-Drummond 62*) trail Surrey 673 for 7 dec (Curran 126, Jacks 103*) by 526 runs

No matter its grandeur, a great building in a world city is almost certain to be ignored by those who live in the metropolis. A visitor turning sharp left out of Oval tube station is immediately struck by the towered splendour of the Micky Stewart Members’ Pavilion and by the mighty suites of offices that border nearly a quarter of one of the most famous cricket fields in the world; commuters, by contrast, have somewhere to get to and walk calmly on. And such indifference is particularly noticeable outside the perimeter of sports grounds when important matches are taking place and desperate dramas are unfolding some 50 yards away from the quiet routines of quotidian life.

Now it would rupture truth most grievously to describe the second day’s play in this match as dramatic but it did contain moments of significance and never more so than when Sam Curran lifted George Linde straight and deep into the pavilion to reach his maiden first-class century in his 120th first-class innings. Given that the 24-year-old Curran had made 22 fifties in his 78 matches prior to this game, it will surprise no one that his celebration contained even more leaping and brandishing than is usual on these occasions. For their part, though, patient Surrey supporters might have greeted the achievement with a gruff, “About time, too”, and that would also have been understandable. The view of some locals is that Curran will offer his county and country rather more with the bat than the ball and a first hundred should be viewed as little more than an amuse bouche.
Moreover, so violent was the batting on this second morning that Curran’s century, for all that it came off 62 balls, had to take its place in a brutal assault on the Kent attack, five of whose members reached centuries that warranted no celebration at all. We lost around 17 minutes of the session to rain but Surrey still managed to thrash a Jessopian 190 runs in 26.2 overs before lunch. Curran was the most destructive, hammering 4-4-6-4 off the hapless Jacob Duffy when play resumed, but he was not the only hooligan. Will Jacks, who hadn’t faced a ball when play began, helped his sixth-wicket partner add 100 runs in 61 minutes, and reached his own century, off a pedestrian 92 balls, shortly after a luncheon interval in which three 185 buses had passed down the Harleyford Road, seemingly in convoy and en route to the badlands of Victoria.

The declaration was applied as soon as Jacks reached his first hundred of the season with Surrey’s total of 673 eclipsing by one run their record score against Kent that was established at Beckenham only 45 days ago. One or two other landmarks were freighted with greater heritage. For example, this is only the second occasion that four Surrey batters have made centuries in the same innings. The predecessors of Hashim Amla, Ben Geddes, Curran and Jacks were David Fletcher, Stan Squires, Jack Parker and Errol Holmes, all of whom made hundreds against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1947. Not much sign of austerity there…

That three-day match was drawn but Rory Burns plainly hoped that giving his bowlers almost eight sessions to take 20 wickets would avoid such an outcome 75 years later. His strategy looked sound when Ben Compton inside-edged Curran on to his stumps in the fourth over of the innings but an interruption for rain eventually trimmed 10 overs from our day and the only wicket to fall in the long evening session was that of Joe Denly, who was bowled for 38 by a ball that nipped back through the gate from Dan Worrall.

Thereafter Daniel Bell-Drummond and Jack Leaning batted with increasing assurance on a pitch they could clearly trust and the only serious alarm came when Leaning edged Tom Lawes just out of the leaping Worrall’s reach at first slip. Yet on a day when batters had become cricketing gourmands, Bell-Drummond’s fine unbeaten 62, his unbroken partnership of 92 with Leaning and Kent’s score of 147 for 2 should be put in perspective. The visitors are still 526 runs behind their pitiless hosts and they need 377 more runs to avoid the follow-on. They are numbers that might make even the commuters ponder awhile as they hurry home to Balham and Tooting Bec.