A combative 136 from England Test batter Ollie Pope put Yorkshire on the back foot during the opening day of their penultimate round LV= Insurance County Championship clash with league leaders Surrey at the Micky Stewart Oval.
Jonny Tattersall opted to bowl in helpful conditions – seam was more evident than swing on a green-tinged pitch – and Yorkshire were very much in the game with the title favourites at 136-5 in the early stages of the afternoon.
Steve Patterson had claimed four of the wickets, including two in an over, as batter after batter played with great caution on a pitch prepared to produce a result. Surrey closed on 292-6 inside 74 overs, including Patterson’s superb 4-52 from 18 overs.
Bad light stopped play after 73.2 overs, with no play beyond 4.45pm.
Both Patterson and new ball seamer Ben Coad, who had removed both openers and returned 2-30 from 15, were the pick of a bowling attack that will have wanted more consistency.
Pope – not without luck – played things much differently, using his feet with great success in a 131-ball innings including 16 fours and two sixes.
He drove handsomely and played with power. But he also batted with invention and finesse on the way to his 15th first-class century, 10th on this ground and second against Yorkshire.
The England number three, batting at four for his county, ramped Jordan Thompson for six and reverse swept Dom Bess’s first ball for four to reach his century off 102 balls.
New signing Ben Mike’s extra pace was used to Pope’s advantage. He uppercut him for six over third, as Jordan Clark had done on the way to an unbeaten 55.
Former Leicestershire man Mike returned figures of 0-86 from 12.2 overs.
Patterson’s four-wicket return included the notable scalps of South Africa legend Hashim Amla before lunch and current England Test duo Ben Foakes and Pope during the afternoon and evening sessions respectively.
Yorkshire struck in the fifth over when Coad had home captain Rory Burns caught at first slip, leaving the score at 4-1, before Patterson had Amla caught at third slip – 53-2 in the 22nd.
The other Surrey opener, Ryan Patel, had made his way to 41 before he edged Coad to Tom Kohler-Cadmore at first slip in the morning’s final over, leaving the score at 82-3 in the 28th over.
All three batters departed as they felt for balls outside off-stump.
Pope rode his luck. One example was him getting a leading edge off Coad that looped just over mid-off’s head in the early afternoon.
But Yorkshire would have been happy with their position at 136-5 in the 42nd over when Patterson struck twice in three balls to remove Foakes caught behind for 19 and Cameron Steel caught at first slip for a duck.
Unfortunately, however, the complexion of the day was about to change at the hands of Pope and his supporting act Clark.
The pair shared 142 in 27 overs through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, which started with Surrey at 246-5 after 64 overs.
Pope advanced at the bowlers and drove in eye-catching fashion on the way to his second Championship career century against Yorkshire on this ground. He also scored 158 not out in the 2014 fixture.
The evening session started under floodlights, and Clark reached his fifty off 94 balls before Pope was bowled playing to leg against Patterson – Surrey 278-6 in the 69th over.
Clark will begin day three with Jamie Overton for company on nine.
Surrey have renamed the Kia Oval the Micky Stewart Oval for this match alone to honour their legend on his 90th birthday, which he celebrated last week.