Cricket: Bicknell in fluent flow

Surrey 267; Derbyshire 113-2
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The Independent Online
Under the scrutiny of the England coach, David Lloyd, Surrey's batsmen showed a lot of qualities here yesterday but, until late in the day, consistent footwork and sensible shot selection were not always among them.

In the end, though, a gritty innings which brought Graham Thorpe a little closer to something like form and an impressively fluent one from Martin Bicknell held them together. There is now scope for some manoeuvring on the last day, which did not always seem likely.

Surrey had apparently decided that they wanted to bat when they first saw the dry, albeit unevenly grassed, pitch on the first morning; by yesterday, however, after two days under the covers, it had obviously sweated enough to offer plenty for the seam bowlers.

Moreover, when Adam Hollioake won the toss the skies were clear. By the time Surrey went in, the clouds had rolled in and inside five overs Darren Bicknell, Mark Butcher and Alec Stewart were rolled over, the last two contributing to their downfall with errors of judgement.

Devon Malcolm's contribution to all this was to bowl fast and straight and, Lloyd would have noted, more often than not at the same time. Nobody played him with comfort, at least while the ball was new and he was fresh.

It was a different game later when the sun shone and the ball had lost its hardness. Even so, Surrey had to drag themselves back from 134 for 7 and Derbyshire will think that would have been that if Bicknell had edged his first ball from Malcolm to slip instead of a few inches wide.

After that Bicknell got as firmly on the front foot as anyone and Thorpe, having explored both edges for quite some time, like most left handers attracted a lot of bowling which he nudged, deflected or drove off his legs. Thus the last three wickets all but doubled the total.

The importance of that was underlined when Chris Lewis ran in convincingly, while Bicknell, even off a reduced run-up, obtained enough bounce and movement to give everyone a bumpy ride. This was too much for Derbyshire's Adrian Rollins and Chris Adams, and by the close both Surrey and Lloyd must have felt they had had a rewarding day.

n Graeme Hick has turned the down the chance to make an early impression against the Australians for the Duke of Norfolk's XI in the traditional tour opener at Arundel on 15 May. He has decided two innings for Worcestershire against Oxford University are more likely to influence England's selectors.