Yorkshire would have slipped into the bottom two if they had lost after following-on against Surrey but hundreds by Shaun Marsh and Alex Lees guarded against calamity
Yorkshire 394 (Marsh 78, Kohler-Cadmore 78, Hodd 57, Batty 3-77, van den Bergh 3-84) and 281 for 2 (Marsh 125*, Lees 102) drew with Surrey 592 (Sangakkara 164, Stoneman 131, Foakes 110, Burns 75)
Determined hundreds from both Shaun Marsh and Alex Lees ensured Yorkshire’s escape with a hard-earned draw against Surrey at the Kia Oval despite having been being forced to follow-on in their Specsavers County Championship match.
Marsh finished unbeaten on 125, from 263 balls, in a dedicated demonstration of crease occupation across five and a half hours, and he had guided Yorkshire to safety at 281 for 2 in their second innings – an overall lead of 83 – when bad light prevented the last 31 overs of the match from being bowled. There was just one over sent down after tea before umpires Michael Burns and Neil Mallender took the players off, never to return.
It was a fine effort from Marsh and Lees, with the five draw points highly valuable to a Yorkshire team who are facing a fight to avoid relegation from Division One in the upcoming last fortnight of the season. The 10 points they take from this match leaves them on 124, just one point ahead of both Somerset and Middlesex and with one of those three counties seemingly destined to join already relegated Warwickshire in the second division next season.
Marsh and fellow left-hander Lees put on 215 in 67 overs, a Yorkshire second wicket record against Surrey. The previous record, of 196 between Herbert Sutcliffe and Edgar Oldroyd, dated back to 1922 and was also at the Oval.
The 24-year-old Lees, having completed his first century of what has been a difficult, low-scoring season for him, reached 102 from201 balls before chopping on attempting to cut slow left-arm spinner Freddie van den Bergh. It was the 12th first-class hundred of Lees’ career.
Yorkshire resumed on 59 for one, still 139 runs adrift, and Marsh was largely untroubled as he moved on from his overnight 27. Lees, however, who started the day on 19, was close to being leg-before to Sam Curran’s left-arm seam and swing when on 24 and, after being beaten by the same bowler on 32, he survived a confident appeal for a catch behind off Curran on 33.
On a last day pitch still good for batting, and against a Surrey bowling attack surely growing weary on a third successive day in the field, Marsh took the opportunity to underline his claims for inclusion in Australia’s Ashes Test plans.
This was his 22nd first-class hundred, four of which have been made in his 23 Test appearances to date. Next week, his place as overseas batsman in Yorkshire’s team passes to Kraigg Brathwaite, the West Indies opener signed for the last two games of the championship season with a view to an extended stint going into next summer. Gary Ballance kept Marsh company with 28 not out before the bad light brought a premature finish to the game.
Surrey, who take 12 points from the game and now have 136 in total, are not yet totally out of the relegation picture themselves – even third-placed Hampshire could yet be sucked in. Surrey host Somerset at the Kia Oval next week, before a visit in the last week of the season to play Lancashire at Old Trafford.