REMARKABLE HAPPENINGS at The Oval. Surrey, who lead the County Championship table comfortably, are to be found just above the bottom of the second division of the National Cricket League. But you would never have known it yesterday when they bowled Glamorgan out for 44 in 17 overs. Apparently, the umpires were not happy with the wicket, but Martin Bicknell loved it. The ball swung sharply; he moved it off the seam too, and took 7 for 30.
The performances had everyone reaching for the record books, but a one- day score of 44 is not even Glamorgan's lowest (that is 42). It is one of the swiftest though, only six balls short of the record.
Glamorgan's top guns were back from injury, but they were no help at all. Matthew Maynard, the captain, and Steve James were out to Bicknell for ducks. Michael Powell and Robert Croft went for the same score to the same man. Alun Evans, top scorer with 17, was alone in double figures. Maynard had no excuses; he didn't blame the wicket: "We didn't adapt to it at all. The ball was swinging and we just didn't get it right."
He considered the possibility that speculation over the promotion of Duncan Fletcher, the Zimbabwean who coaches Glamorgan, to David Lloyd's England job was unsettling. He thought it might have affected the team's focus a little, but he believed the blame for losing by 143 runs lay with the players, not the future of the coach.
After the game, Fletcher asked Maynard whether he would have a word with the team straight away, but Maynard said he would rather have a word next week. Fletcher said that was fine by him and kept his counsel.
That had been his habit throughout the day. As the man most likely to succeed Lloyd as England coach, Fletcher sat at the door of the visitors' dressing-room but, although he is approachable enough, he had nothing to say about the England job. He is hot favourite, but all he says is that he has still to hear from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Alec Stewart, who might have produced a big score to show contempt for his own predicament - he is unlikely to be captain under Fletcher - did nothing of the kind. There were a couple of boundaries, one of which only just evaded the outstretched fingers of Michael Powell at point, before he was drawn forward and edged a catch to the keeper for 14. Surrey were 18 for 1 on their way to a 45-over total of 187, which turned out to be rather more than enough.
But Fletcher could not have been much impressed by what he saw from other members of Surrey's England contingent. Graham Thorpe was well caught at slip for four; Mark Butcher left the form he has shown in county matches in the dressing-room and scratched around for 42 in 28 overs. Of the Hollioakes, Adam batted cheerfully for 40 until Croft bamboozled him; Ben found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was one of three Surrey run outs.
But Fletcher is hard put to recall any impressive performances by Glamorgan's opponents this season. "No one has played well against us," he says before the memory dredges up a couple of decent innings by Leicester batsmen.
Fletcher was Zimbabwe's first Test captain, and both the accent and the tan are southern African. He is 50, tall, with short silver hair. He smiles eventually, but the appearance is imposing. Wearing a grey suit rather than a track suit, he could be a company director.Reuse content