Cricket: Bicknell and Batty batter Lancashire

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The Independent Online
DARREN BICKNELL and his Surrey team-mate Jonathan Batty patiently accumulated the 36 runs the County Championship leaders required to secure a four-wicket win over Lancashire at The Oval yesterday.

Bicknell, 32 next week, finished on 24 not out made in 136 minutes off 126 balls for victory after Surrey resumed on 121 for 6, chasing 157. He then praised the efforts of the wicketkeeper. "Jonathan Batty was superb," he said. "He hasn't been having the best of times with the bat lately but there was no thought in my head of trying to protect him against Muttiah Muralitharan because Jon is a good batsman.

"We will have Saqlain Mushtaq, the Pakistan off-spinner, back for our next match here against Durham. If the pitches stay hard and dry he's bound to take wickets."

Bicknell hit just two boundaries, including a five off the last ball as a desperate attempt at a run-out missed and crossed the boundary rope. But it was just the sort of sensible, professional innings the side needed after Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan off-spinner, had sparked panic in the dressing-room on Thursday night as the home side collapsed from 78 for 0. Batty played his part as well, reaching 23 not out in 69 minutes from 72 balls with two fours.

The batsmen's task was far from straightforward against Muralitharan on a pitch taking spin. But he could not add to the four wickets he had already taken in the innings, the left-handed Bicknell playing him with admirable calmness.