Youngsters Will Jacks and Ryan Patel shone for Surrey as the opening chapter in their defence of the Specsavers County Championship ended in stalemate.

Essex, the only side to beat them last year and winners in 2017, could claim bragging rights in the draw last weekend at an icy Kia Oval, where temperatures rarely hit double-figures throughout the four days.

That made the going difficult for bowlers and fielders throughout – and it wasn’t much fun for spectators either, who mostly huddled inside – while interruptions for bad light made a positive result all the harder.

Surrey, whose preparations for the Championship campaign had been disrupted by rain in Dubai and poor weather when they returned, finished with 11 points to their opponents’ 13.

But for injuries to Jason Roy (hamstring) and Scott Borthwick (side), neither Patel nor Jacks would have been playing but they made the most of their opportunities. Starkly contrasting styles were never more obvious than on the opening day when Patel took 36 balls to get off the mark against a tight Essex attack led by Australian seamer Peter Siddle (6-104), the 21-year-old anchoring an innings which stretched to 395 all out as first he aided England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes (69) in adding 95 for the fourth wicket.

Jacks’s attacking flair was underlined when he hit six sixes in an over of a friendly against Lancashire last month and the 20-year-old cleared the boundary for his first scoring shot in reaching a career best 88 from a fifth-wicket alliance of 151, a record for the county against Essex.

Wimbledon all-rounder Patel went on to reach his maiden first-class century and the hosts soon removed recently-knighted Sir Alastair Cook at the start of the reply. They were held up, though, by Dan Lawrence (93) and then Essex skipper Ryan Ten Doeschate, who has troubled them aplenty in the past and made his third century against Surrey in hitting 130, Siddle’s 41no ensuring a lead of 53. Morne Morkel and Tom Curran both finished with three wickets apiece although Liam Plunkett suffered rough treatment on his county debut.

Captain Rory Burns (98) hit form in the second innings, Ollie Pope’s 69 and Jacks – whose 54 gave him a second half-century in the match – seeing Surrey to safety on the final day.

Now they turn their attention to 50-over cricket for the next three weeks, the Royal London Cup campaign having started on Wednesday against Gloucestershire at Bristol. It continues with a trip to Hove on Good Friday for the clash with Sussex before returning to the Kia Oval for the return of Essex on Tuesday.