Ollie Pope enhanced his reputation as one of the best young batsmen in the country by scoring his second Specsavers County Championship hundred of the season to lead Surrey’s fightback against Yorkshire at the Kia Oval.
England captain Joe Root, leading Yorkshire for only the fourth time after Gary Ballance was struck down by illness, saw Surrey slump to 69-4 on a well-grassed pitch.
But Pope, who is playing only his 10th first-class match, added an unbeaten 131 to his 145 against Hampshire last month as Surrey recovered to 366-7 at stumps on day one.
The 20-year-old helped Dean Elgar (61) add 68 for the fifth wicket, then counter-attacked with Rikki Clarke in a punishing stand of 129 in 28.2 overs for the seventh wicket as batting conditions improved.
Pope played some eye-catching shots through the off side and picked off anything aimed at his pads when Yorkshire’s seamers tried a leg-stump line.
He left well too and his only moment of alarm came when he took a single into the covers to reach 50 and would have been run out had Harry Brook’s throw at the non-striker’s end hit the stumps.
His second 50 came off 67 balls, while Clarke made the most of a life on 16 when he was put down at slip by Cheteshwar Pujara.
His 71 off 91 balls included 10 fours and two sixes, both swiped over midwicket off
Josh Shaw, and he reached 10,000 first-class runs on 26.
The stand was broken when Adam Lyth held on at the second attempt at slip in Jack Brooks’ first over with the second new ball, but Pope and Jade Dernbach punished some wayward bowling before stumps, adding 72 in 11 overs. Pope has faced 194 balls and hit 22 fours.
It was all in sharp contrast to a difficult morning for Surrey as the Yorkshire seamers shared four top-order wickets.
England opener Mark Stoneman’s tough start to the domestic season – he has yet to pass 30 so far – continued when he was lbw half-forward to Tim Bresnan.
Rory Burns became Brooks’ 400th first-class wicket, Scott Borthwick (five) played a very loose shot outside off stump and Ben Foakes feathered a thin edge off Steve Patterson.
Elgar stood firm though as he passed 50 for the first time since joining Surrey and it was a surprise when he lost his leg stump when Root came on after lunch to bowl his off-breaks.
It was Root’s first Championship wicket for 13 months.
When Patterson angled the ball across Sam Curran (16) to pick up his second wicket Surrey were 162-6, but then Pope and Clarke changed the complexion of the day.
Elgar said: “It was a fantastic knock by Ollie Pope but Rikki Clarke really changed the momentum of the day – he fought fire with fire and took the game back to them. That was an awesome partnership.
“Ollie has really impressed me. He looked a good player when I played against him last season and he is definitely one to watch.
“He’s still a young kid with a lot to learn but he has a really bright future.”
Yorkshire’s Lyth added: “The first two sessions were fantastic for us, but the third was indifferent.
“I thought the young lad Pope played very well for them so hats off to him.”