Surrey take charge at Beckenham
Surrey take charge at Beckenham

A maiden first-class hundred from Surrey’s Will Jacks and a four-wicket haul by Kent debutant Wiaan Mulder made for three contrasting sessions as these Division 1 neighbours tussled for supremacy on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship clash in Beckenham.

By stumps Surrey had reached 420 for nine after Jacks had dominated mid-afternoon proceedings with an eye-catching 120 that left Kent’s attack struggling to find an effective containment plan.

A tall right-hander playing only his 12th first-class match, Jacks found himself in the thick of the action well before lunch as Surrey, having opted to bat first, slid to 65 for five with 17 overs of the start.

The product of St George’s College, Weybridge, Jacks dug in to turn the tide Surrey’s way with a 175-run sixth-wicket stand in tandem with Scott Borthwick.

Batting in seemingly ideal conditions in Metropolitan Kent – the hosts wanted first use as well had they won the toss – Surrey’s top-order made a mess of their early work.

Openers Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns reached 29 after six overs before Stoneman pressed the self-destruct button. Pushing to mid-wicket the left-hander set off wanting a single only to be sent back by Burns and lose the race to regain his ground to an underarm, direct hit by Mulder.

Three overs later Burns followed his partner back to the pavilion. Walking across his stumps to a good length leg-cutter from Harry Podmore, Burns edged to the keeper Ollie Robinson.

Matt Milnes struck with his second delivery of the game, running one up the slope and away from the prodding defensive push of South Africa left-hander Dean Elgar who was caught behind.

Mulder struck to remove Ben Foakes with a lifting delivery that held its own against the slope to take the outside edge and fly low to slip.  Then, at the end of the same over, the Proteas Test cap had Sam Curran caught in the gully after the Surrey all-rounder drove with firm hands at a delivery on the line of ‘fourth stump’.

Kent bowled short and offered too much width in the mid-session allowing Surrey to counter with a flurry of fours. Borthwick raised his 50 off 83 balls and with eight fours, while Jacks reached the milestone from 91 balls and with 11 fours.

The pair created a sixth-wicket Surrey record for first-class matches against Kent when they moved past the 162 set by Miles Howell and Percy Fender at The Oval in 1922.

Shortly before tea and only five runs short of his century, Borthwick’s decision to sweep against the off-spin of Adam Riley proved terminal as umpire Graham Lloyd upheld the bowler’s leg before appeal.

After the resumption Jacks, who hit three previous championship half-centuries from only four innings this season, moved effortlessly to three figures from 164 balls and with 19 fours.

He mustered one more boundary before his four-hour innings came to an end. Having added 74 in tandem with Rikki Clarke, Jacks feathered an attempted off drive against Mulder to be caught at the wicket for 120 off 194 balls.

Podmore took the second new ball, but Clarke took that as his cue to put bat to ball, reaching a fluent 50 from 60 balls with eight fours. By the close, the 37-year-old was on the cusp of his 18thfirst-class ton with an unbeaten 87.

Morne Morkel, the former South Africa and Kent paceman, tried to follow Clarke’s lead only to miscue to mid-off and give Mulder his fourth wicket of the day.

Robinson pouched a fourth catch when Gareth Batty chased a Darren Stevens away-swinger late in the day.

Jacks, Surrey’s century-maker, said: “It was a really nice day because scoring a championship hundred was something I really wanted to tick off this season. It was really pleasing to achieve that, even more so for us to get through until stumps with 400 on the board having been five down after the opening hour.

“Really happy for myself, ‘Badger’ Borthwick and Rikki too, and I hope we can now take that momentum into the next couple of days.

“I just had to get through that first period before lunch and after that it got a bit easier as their bowlers tired. I just took it over by over with the hope we could bat as deep into the day as possible.

“Every time you go out to bat against a new ball it’s going to nip around, you know that’s a given. Sometimes you play and miss, other times you nick it. That’s cricket, so today I had my little bit of luck.”

Mulder, the pick of the Kent attack with four wickets, said: “We had them five down early on but we didn’t bowl as well in the last two sessions of the day.

“I bowled too many bad balls later in the day but that’s something I can learn from. But overall I felt it was a good cricket wicket.

“The ball nipped around to start off and then the older it got it started to swing, which was really interesting for me and something I’m really not used to back at home. That’s another thing for me to get used to.

“As I said, it’s a pretty decent pitch, so I’m hoping there are plenty of runs left in it for me and the rest of the Kent guys tomorrow.”