Surrey batsman Jamie Smith underlines potential with cracking century against Northamptonshire

Surrey batsman Jamie Smith in action against Somerset earlier this season. Picture by Mark Sandom

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JAMIE Smith underlined once again why he could be the next Surrey player to strut the international stage.

The 21-year-old cracked 123 against Northamptonshire as his county made their belated return to the LV County Championship this week.

A positive Covid-19 test among the squad – matched by the need for close contacts to be isolated – had forced Surrey to cancel their trip to play Durham at Chester-le-Street on August 30, the first time they had failed to take the field in a scheduled match since the Second World War.

Still missing experienced players due to international call ups and injuries, they were immediately in trouble at Northampton after choosing to bat, slumping to 15 for three.

But Ryan Patel’s patient 35 helped Smith to launch a recovery before Will Jacks underlined why he is a force in red ball as well as white ball cricket by making 60 in a partnership worth 145.

Smith – having also spent much of the season keeping wicket in the absence of Ben Foakes – displayed the mixture of technique, panache and sound temperament which marks him out as a rare talent. This week Foakes launched his return to action from a torn hamstring with the county second team.

So high is Surrey’s regard for Smith that he stood in as captain during the Royal London Cup campaign, despite being one of the youngest in the team.

But Surrey failed to take advantage of the Smith-Jacks recovery, losing the last five wickets for 21 and bowled all out for 252 with seamers Tom Taylor (five for 41) and Ben Sanderson (four for 32) doing most damage.

Yet that total looked more impressive when Northants were bowled out for 171 on the second day, which put Surrey in a strong position to push on for victory.

Veteran Rikki Clarke, who retires this month, claimed the 800th wicket of his first-class career in taking three for 34, with two wickets apiece for Reece Topley and Gus Atkinson.

Surrey were bowled out for 238 in their second innings, setting Northants a target of 320 for victory. The home side squeezed home by two wickets on the final day.

Surrey entertain Essex at the Kia Oval from Sunday, their coffers boosted by hosting the England v India Test which was a sell out, an enormous boost to the county after losing £1.5million last year because of the pandemic.

Director of cricket Alec Stewart continues to make changes with the release of veteran seamer Liam Plunkett, a World Cup winner two years ago, but whose time at The Oval proved an anticlimax.

He follows experienced duo Mark Stoneman and Jade Dernbach out of the club.

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