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    Oval showdown between Clark and Barnard
Oval showdown between Clark and Barnard
Jordan Clark pegged Warwickshire back with regular strikes. Source: Surrey CCC/Getty Images

Oval showdown between Clark and Barnard

It was a day defined by the performances of two all-rounders who are among the outstanding county players of the modern era: Jordan Clark, the underrated lynchpin of Surrey's successive Championship titles, and Ed Barnard, who needs four runs on Saturday to score his first first-class hundred for Warwickshire.

Clark showed promise as a red-ball cricketer during his time at Lancashire, dismissing Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow as part of a Roses hat-trick in 2018, which proved to be his final season at the club. But when he arrived at defending champions Surrey, it was hard to see how he would become a regular in their Championship side.

He has done that and more. He has played a pivotal role in their recent success. His batting and bowling averages for the club are almost identical (28.20 and 28.23 respectively) and he has thrived as a first-change bowler in a four- or five-man seam attack. Last week, he hit 106 not out from 102 balls in Surrey's convincing win over Hampshire.

Clark broke the game open for Surrey after Warwickshire's bright start, racing to 50 for 0 in 10 overs after being asked to bat first. He struck in his second over, going wide on the crease and pulling one back past Alex Davies to uproot his off stump; when Sean Abbott trapped Rob Yates lbw in his next over, Warwickshire had lost both their openers in the space of three balls.

Sam Hain returned to the Warwickshire side after missing the start of the season for personal reasons and started brightly after scoring a double century for the seconds last week. But he was wrongly given out caught behind on the stroke of lunch to Kemar Roach, who then had Jacob Bethell caught at second slip after Dom Sibley had denied the first chance at first slip.

And Clark struck regularly throughout the day as if to prove his worth, trapping Dan Mousley on the knee roll, having Will Rhodes well caught at slip by Sibley and inducing a chop-on from Michael Burgess with the old ball that left his leg stump on the ground. That left Warwickshire on 222 for 7 and in danger of missing out on a single batting bonus point.

But by the close of play, Barnard had guided them to 318 for 8, scoring heavily through cover. He added 50 for the eighth wicket with Aamer Jamal and an unbroken 41 with No 10 Craig Miles, and should reach his sixth first-class hundred - and first since leaving Worcestershire - on Saturday morning as Warwickshire chase a third batting point.

It is a running joke in the Warwickshire dressing room that Barnard always "misses the flat ones". Earlier in the season, he made 1 off 4 balls in a team total of 698 for 3 against Durham at Edgbaston. "But he certainly got his money's worth today," said Rhodes with a smile.

Warwickshire have been involved in four draws out of four so far this season, but this match looks set to go the distance. Their 318 for 8 is already the second-highest total Surrey have conceded this year - behind Somerset's 351 all out - and they have a chance to make their mark on this match on Saturday.

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