JAMIE SMITH’S maiden double century underlined a major talent who could be Surrey’s next international player.
The 21-year-old’s unbeaten 234 against Gloucestershire at Bristol drove his side to a hefty 603 all out – but all they got out of the match was a damp run-soaked draw, which keeps them top of LV County Championship Division One.
Smith monopolised last year’s player-of-the-season awards, the major success of a poor year for his county, and was picked for the England Lions tour last winter although he got little chance to show his ability.
Such is the competition for places at Surrey, though, he was omitted after two quiet matches of the current campaign and only returned to the side because of a back injury to England wicket-keeper Ben Foakes, having to rush west from a second team match at Guildford.
Leaving him out again will not be easy.
Inserted by Gloucestershire, the visitors were in trouble at 37 for three when Smith walked in and played the support act first to Ollie Pope (84) in a fourth wicket alliance worth 151 before being joined by Sam Curran to add 138, making his third ton in five matches as Surrey benefited from several dropped catches.
On a pitch where batting became progressively easier, Smith moved from 111 overnight to enjoy a massive eighth wicket stand of 244 with Jordan Clark, who hammered his second first-class century – and first for Surrey – in making 137. The pair created a new county record in overtaking the 222 added by Foakes and Gareth Batty against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl six years ago.
It also set a new ground best, passing the 239 put on by Walter Hammond and Andy Wilson for Gloucestershire against Lancashire in 1938.
“To get my first double hundred was nice and another box ticked in my career. It was also great to see Jordan Clark get his first Surrey hundred because he has worked so hard on his batting,” said Smith modestly.
He became the fourth youngest player to make a double century for Surrey but ended his innings – which lasted almost ten hours and saw him hit 34 boundaries – with bruised fingers which prevented him from keeping wicket.
Pope, who has done the job for England capably, took over while Gloucestershire reached 86 without loss by the end of the second day but Surrey called up Sutton’s Josh Blake, having performed capably for the second team at Guildford, to take over after that.
He endured a long third day with the rest of his colleagues as the hosts ensured they made the most of conditions to amass 443 for two, openers Chris Dent (207 not out) and Marcus Harris (124) combining to put on 296. New Zealander Colin de Grandhomme finally broke through on his debut, having been signed for three matches, when Australian left-hander Harris edged to Blake.
Clark instantly removed James Bracey for a duck but Surrey’s hopes of a flurry of wickets were halted by Miles Hammond cracking 75 not out.
Rain prevented any play on the final day with Gloucestershire on 443 for two, the 11 points gained by Surrey keeping them top by six points.
By Richard Spiller