Butcher presses claim for tour place

Warwickshire 195 Surrey 429-7
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The Independent Online
These days it seems that Surrey's acting captain, Chris Lewis, cannot do anything wrong. The mantle of responsibility sits easily on the shoulders of the talented all-rounder as he has earned the plaudits of his young charges over the last two days for his leadership and feats with the ball.

Yesterday it was his turn with the bat and his unbeaten half-century showed that the term all-rounder was tailored for Lewis in his present mood.

Yesterday he thumped Warwickshire into near submission as he hammered his highest score (three sixes and nine fours) to date for the county who were prepared to stand by him in his recent troubles with the England management and who had shown faith in the man's ability by signing him in the first place.

Surrey must be in with a good shout for victory having established a comfortable lead of 234 runs to sustain their Championship challenge.

It has become customary for Mark Butcher to pass 50 these days. He was a little slow in reaching his 13th half-century of the summer and perhaps he should have gone to make a fourth hundred. However, when Ashley Giles pushed one through a little more quickly a leg got in the way and Butcher was on his way.

By then though he must have shown enough of his undoubted class and talent to convince the England hierarchy that he is worth a place on one of the tours, preferably the full one. Darren Bicknell echoed the tempo of the day with a thoughtful innings to reach his first half-century on home soil this season, in a summer when the usually prolific Bicknell has struggled for runs, still the 50 will be a relief.

Nearly all of the Surrey batsmen seemed to be hypnotised by the pace of the day and the pitch although there was a brisk half-century from the wicketkeeper Graham Kersey. But matters only really accelerated from the languorous and lethargic when Lewis entered the arena and, in tandem with Ben Hollioake put on 111 in 24 overs. The England Under-19 all-rounder Hollioake fell a tantalising four runs short of his maiden first-class half-century, but what a prospect.

n Leicestershire stepped up their Championship challenge with a win over Somerset at Grace Road. West Indian all-rounder Phil Simmons took 4 for 38 yesterday as Somerset were bowled out for 174 and suffered an innings and 39 runs defeat.