UNDER normal circumstances, a Yorkshire first-innings score of 394 would represent cause for some celebration.
After all, this was only their fourth first-innings score of 300-plus in the Championship all year, a statistic that highlights their problems with the bat.
But when you are replying to your opponent’s own first-innings score of 592, and when you need 443 just to avoid the follow-on, it is not quite the cue to open the champagne.
Asked to bat again, Yorkshire ended day three on 59-1 in their second innings, still with work to do to avoid defeat, albeit on a pitch that remains pretty flat.
Considering that Yorkshire’s batting has been such a problem, with their bowling letting them down in the earlier part of this game, at least that first-innings total was a fighting effort.
Credit should go to Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Shaun Marsh, who got the innings off to a flying start with a stand of 162 on day two, Yorkshire’s highest opening partnership this year. Kohler-Cadmore and Marsh joint top-scored with 78, Marsh the first out yesterday when he was drawn forward by left-arm spinner Freddie van den Bergh and stumped.
Marsh added only a single after Yorkshire resumed on 171-1, and if there was a frustration for both openers, it was that neither went on to a big score.
The rest of the innings also contained plenty of good starts but no killer contribution.
Andrew Hodd battled gamely for just over three hours to record the next-highest score of 57, the wicketkeeper last out when he skied Surrey captain Gareth Batty to cover. Hodd suffered one or two bumps and bruises en route and is never a man who lets Yorkshire down. Had he enjoyed more support, the visitors would have reached their follow-on target and Hodd’s part in that would have been significant. Alex Lees also batted well, lifting his overnight seven to 46 before falling to an exceptional catch.
Lees connected sweetly with a sweep off van den Bergh only for a diving Ryan Patel to pluck the ball out of the air at square-leg.
If there was an element of misfortune about that, there was nothing unlucky about the demise of Gary Ballance, which left Yorkshire 243-4.
Ballance pushed a ball from van den Bergh out towards the covers and the bowler swooped to run-out the Yorkshire captain as he tried to regain his ground after contemplating a single that never looked on.
Tall and lithe, with an eight-pace run-up, van den Bergh caused Yorkshire plenty of problems in a near-unchanged spell in the morning from the Pavilion End.
On his Championship debut, the 25-year-old looked more likely to take wickets in the early exchanges than Batty, the senior spinner, and he seems a good prospect.
After Ballance’s dismissal, Yorkshire needed a period of calm and they got it through the efforts of Hodd and Jack Leaning.
The fifth-wicket pair added 59 either side of lunch before Leaning nibbled at a ball from Sam Curran and was caught behind.
Once again, Yorkshire rallied, Hodd and Tim Bresnan adding 41 in 18 overs as Surrey attacked with increasing gusto.
It was only when Batty switched to the Pavilion End, from where most of the wickets fell, that the innings began to tail away, the Bradford-born off-spinner taking two wickets in four balls as Bresnan, pushing forward, was caught at slip and Azeem Rafiq, playing across his front pad, lbw, leaving Yorkshire 343-7.
Just before tea, Stuart Meaker knocked out Steve Patterson’s middle stump, but Hodd batted through the afternoon to lift his total from 19 to 41. Hodd drove confidently and cut with aplomb, showing precisely the attitude needed against a club for whom he made four appearances in 2005, either side of spells with Sussex.
After Hodd went to his half-century from 122 balls with seven fours, a mistake on the scoreboard meaning that he arrived at the milestone before most of the crowd realised, Jack Brooks was caught behind propping forward before Hodd himself was out.
Batty returned Surrey’s best figures of 3-77, but van den Bergh’s 3-84 from 37 overs was a splendid effort. Faced with 23 overs to negotiate before stumps, as a hitherto cloudy day gave way to bright sunshine, Yorkshire slipped to 24-1 when Kohler-Cadmore was pinned by Curran. But Marsh and Lees held firm, and Yorkshire will be hopeful of emerging with a draw.