Cricket: Butcher twists the knife

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The Independent Online
Surrey 483 v Warwickshire 223-9

IF A Test is going badly there is no better moment for a spot of selector nudging but Nick Knight's attempt to register a timely reminder failed to achieve the maximum impact here yesterday. The left-hander, overlooked by England so far this summer, displayed the composure that others around him lacked as Warwickshire sought a way back into this match only for the the fillip of a century to prove elusive.

He fell six runs short, bowled by a sharply turning leg-break by Ian Salisbury that he watched on to his stumps, his jaw dropping but his bat remaining cocked. It was an unfortunate end and one which may have removed such chance as Warwickshire had of denying Championship leaders, Surrey, another victory. With one wicket left they trail by 260 runs.

These are unhappy times at Edgbaston, not improved when Allan Donald limped off the field after bowling one over yesterday morning. The South African pace bowler has suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury and is unlikely to bowl again in this match.

Warwickshire's form is in decline but in addition there seems to be disquiet off the field. Some players are known to have been unimpressed with the announcement of Bob Woolmer's impending return with Phil Neale still under contract as coach, and they are reported to have been further offended by the treatment of Dominic Ostler, who has played a full part in the county's recent successes but has not been granted a benefit despite reaching the traditional "qualification" of 10 years' service.

There is, of course, no entitlement to a benefit and they are often awarded to players whose earnings scarcely merit a tax-free gift. But Ostler, never a Test player and paid relatively modestly, fits the category for which the system was designed.

Ostler came and went in a flurry of boundaries yesterday, caught at slip off the bowling of Saqlain Mushtaq on a pitch taking spin. It was exploited with equal effectiveness by Salisbury, who bowled Dougie Brown behind his legs and had Keith Piper and Donald caught by slip Ben Hollioake as Warwickshire, who lost Mark Waugh to a run-out in the second over, slipped inevitably towards the follow-on.

Although Ed Giddins finished with 6 for 90, without Donald Warwickshire were powerless to prevent Surrey's advance from 389 for 6 overnight to 483 before lunch, Gary Butcher twisting the knife with 70.