Published: 21st August, 2019
Liam Dawson’s fourth half-century of the season steered Hampshire to the safety of a draw on the final day of their County Championship fixture with hosts Surrey at the Oval.
The visitors looked in trouble after Amar Virdi’s three wickets reduced them to 175-5 shortly before tea, still 37 away from an innings defeat.
But, Dawson (65 not out), who scored a century against the south London side in the Royal London Cup earlier in the season, proved their nemesis again, batting for two hours to take them to 253-5 in company with debutant Harry Came (23 not out) as they avoided defeat.
Earlier, Ollie Pope had completed a maiden County Championship double century to set up the hosts’ morning declaration, before heading to Headingly as England cover for possible concussion victim Jason Roy.
Surrey began the day 123 ahead and in need of quick runs.
Skipper Ben Foakes was bowled through the gate before the go button could be pressed, but Pope continued serenely onto his double hundred from 323 balls with 19 fours.
Clarke hoisted Dawson for a huge straight six to provide the necessary acceleration before being adjudged LBW to Fidel Edwards (5-125).
The declaration came soon afterwards at 579-7 with Pope 221 not out.
This left Hampshire 212 in arrears and with 40 minutes to negotiate before lunch.
The hosts spurned a chance when Ryan Patel dropped Felix Organ at third slip when he’d made just eight, but they made the breakthrough with the last ball before the interval, Virdi having Ian Holland caught down the leg-side by Foakes.
There was more encouragement soon after the resumption when Clarke pinned England hopeful James Vince in front for just a single to leave Hampshire 39-2.
It was clear the visitors’ intent was to play positively in a bid to wipe out their arrears and get in front. However, Sam Northeast took that intention to extreme lengths with a string of streaky shots down through third man. And ultimately it proved his undoing when he slashed one from Morne Morkel to Scott Borthwick at slip.
Organ (77) meanwhile, was making the most of his earlier reprieve, racing to 50 in 55 balls with a six and eight fours.
The 20-year-old looked increasingly confident, but with a second century in as many matches beckoning, he like Northeast contributed to his own downfall, giving Virdi the charge and missing the ball to be stumped by Foakes.
The same combination would account for Rilee Rossouw before the end of the session, though the South African should probably reflect on why he was playing a needless sweep shot so close to an interval.
Dawson dug in, finding an ally in Came, who showed great composure for a man making his first appearance six days shy of his 21st birthday as concussion replacement for Aneurin Donald, injured in the field on day three.
Dawson’s 50 came 63 balls to wipe out the arrears and the pair shared a half-century stand in the game’s dying embers.