Bicknell bounces back for Surrey

Surrey 211, Lancashire 128-5
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The Independent Online
For a small fee, a sea-front circus here will teach you some of the skills of the Big Top. However, you will not find Surrey among their customers - they know all about trampolines, thank you very much, after being the first side to sample Trafalgar Road's relaid pitch yesterday.

Dry but unevenly grassed, its extreme variations of pace and bounce made batting a test of nerve, eye and resilience, not least when the ball was moving off the seam or swinging under low cloud in the first part of the day after a delayed start.

Although reared on true batting surfaces at The Oval, Surrey will not mind one that gives them a chance of furthering their Championship aspirations. And though the ball probably moved around less in the evening sunshine, Martin Bicknell, bowling straight and to the requisite full length, kept his side in contention with 4 for 33.

Among his victims was Neil Fairbrother, hit on the boot by a first-ball yorker. While Nick Speak held on valiantly for a time after taking blows on the hand and chest, Graham Lloyd threw the bat vigorously at anything resembling a full length until caught off a faint edge.

Surrey had batted on much the same "If it's up, it's got to go" principle once Darren Bicknell had lost his off-stump to one that scarcely bounced. Thereafter, when the bat was not being passed several times an over, the batsman was usually being struck on one part of the anatomy or another. Take three successive balls that Adam Hollioake received from Ian Austin: the first struck him in the groin, the second flew to the wicketkeeper at head height and the third rapped him on the glove.

Amazingly, you might think, among all this mayhem Lancashire did not always bowl as well as they might have done. You could imagine one JB Statham taking something like 7 for 30 and then muttering into his beer about being too expensive. No matter. Here, Peter Martin saw Nadeem Shahid flog him for three fours in one over and still produced one that nipped back and kept low to have him lbw. Alistair Brown will not often receive second ball one that bounces and bowls him off a glove.

Brendon Julian, using his long reach, gave Surrey something to bowl at by making 41 from 43 balls. Even Austin allowed himself to be hooked out of the ground by Julian and on to an adjacent railway line.

The fall of 15 wickets in a day meant the umpires were obliged to inform the Test and County Cricket Board, whose inspector of pitches, Harry Brind, will examine the Southport pitch today.

Scoreboard, page 23

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