THE clouds after all were but passing as the younger Bicknell, Martin, left his brother Darren in the shade here yesterday in a three-hour stay which rescued Surrey from dire straits and denied Lancashire the opportunity of enforcing the follow-on.
Surrey, after all, had telegraphed their intention to endure quite early on as they added three to their overnight score in the first half an hour. But then initially they had just the man in occupation for this sort of job, the blocking wonder Ray Alikhan.
Whatever you say about Alikhan, and stroke description rarely enters into the argument, it does help considerably when there is a man present holding up one end in this sort of situation. Which accounted for Alikhan finding himself in his element after the combined efforts of Peter Martin and Warren Hegg had accounted for Darren Bicknell and Graham Thorpe.
Surrey were then 23 for 2, Alikhan weathering the first hour with a contribution of seven from 52 deliveries. Scoff not, it was what Surrey needed as the ball swung around. The trouble was that Alikhan then got himself out leg before offering no shot to one that cut back from Glen Chapple.
Chapple was mighty relieved because Monte Lynch seemed intent on destroying the youngster's confidence by taking five boundaries off him, albeit that a couple of them cleared the slips at a fair rate of knots. Chapple, though, with a little friendly advice from Wasim Akram, stuck to his task and was presented with a second wicket when Lynch edged to second slip.
With Surrey four down for 63 and looking for 243, Lancashire were really in business. But Andy Smith and Alistair Brown had added 52 for the fifth wicket before Smith lost his off-stump to Martin. While Brown then fell to Wasim for a fighting 46, there was no shifting Martin Bicknell.
He now found a willing partner in Graham Kersey. The wicketkeeper, a former Man of Kent, equalled his previous Championship best of 27, made against Surrey, prior to losing out on a leg before decision to Wasim, the seventh-wicket pair having mustered 77 in an increasingly exciting confrontation.
When Neil Kendrick went down in similar fashion during Wasim's next over, the odds swung heavily in favour of Lancashire. Wasim's second delivery to his fellow Pakistani, Waqar Younis, was a no ball, a streaky edge resulting in six runs added to the scoreboard, and one way or another Surrey moved towards their objective.
It was reached in the grand manner, too, Bicknell sending a full toss from Martin to the boundary and celebrating by way of his half century off the next ball. When he was last out, Surrey had cut the deficit to 132.Reuse content