Michael Burgess has offered his warmest thanks to the "chilled out" Olly Hannon-Dalby for escorting him through to three-figures in Warwickshire's championship opener with Surrey.
The match drifted to a draw as the Bears batted their way to safety at Edgbaston but what could have been a forgettable final day was brought to life by a memorable tenth-wicket stand between the pair.
Burgess had already added half-century stands with numbers nine and ten Craig Miles and Henry Brookes and was on 69 when Hannon-Dalby joined him at the crease. If he was to reach his ton, he needed the number 11 to dig in deep…and OHD certainly did that.
Hannon-Dalby batted two hours and 14 minutes for 11 not out, having taken 67 balls to score his first run. His implacable defiance enabled Burgess to not only reach his century but then climb into the attack to post a career-best 178 (221 balls, 20 fours, eight sixes) in a tenth-wicket stand of 122 in 33 overs.
“When Olly came in, I kept saying to him I’m going try this and try that, but he kept me calm and told me how to approach it,” said Burgess, whose 178 is the highest score by a Bears number eight. “He’s such a chilled out fellow he calmed me down out there and kept chatting to me as I was getting close.
“He played really well. It took him a long time to get off the mark but he wasn’t bothered at all because he was doing a job for the team. In fact I think he was a bit annoyed that we took that single from his 67th ball because he had his eye on the record which is around 100.
“I am very grateful to him and also to Milo and Brookesy who stayed around too and played brilliantly. It was very pleasing to score a century because the first game of the season is always really nerve-wracking. You’ve had five months in the indoor school so walking out on the first morning is so exciting.
“As a batsman, the first aim is just to get off the mark, then get to ten and build if you can. It was just a dream start for me but it’s just a start. It is a long season and there are 13 more championship games so hopefully we can win as many of those as we can and contend again.”
The Surrey game was a solid opening to the Bears’ title-defence as they showed heaps to resilience to recover from 41 for four to 531 all out. That recovery was crucially launched by a fifth-wicket stand of 147 between Matt Lamb (106) and Sam Hain (78).
“Hainy and Lamby’s partnership was key,” Burgess said. “At 41 for four we could have easily been out for 150 but those two gave us guys later on the opportunity to play the way we did.
“For Lamby to go out and play the way he did was extremely brave. He played shots and really took the game forward. Hainy just did what Hainy does – he is so steady and consistent and secure. He’s the kind of fellow that, when you are in the dressing room, you watch him bat and he just calms everyone down. Those two were brilliant and also Dan Mousley with 43 from over 100 balls. Those guys set the platform for us to take advantage of a tiring attack later on.
“It was a great surface to bat on so it was always going to be difficult to force a result especially after Surrey batted for 140 overs which took a lot of time out of the game. But we were really happy to secure the draw and with the way we did it. Now we have a week without a game so the bowlers can put their feet up before next week’s game against a very good Essex side when we will have a few more guys available so there’s even more competition for places.”
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