Cricket: Carr keeps going like a train

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The Independent Online
Surrey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .425 and 313-3 dec

Middlesex . . . . . . . . . . . . .350-5 dec and 392-8

Middlesex win by two wickets

WHO needs Lara? The stance may drive the purists potty but these days John Carr can cock a snook or two. In steering Middlesex home via some self-created pot-holes with four overs to spare, the man who once abandoned the greensward to become something in the City extended his average over his last six innings to the little matter of 593.

The spadework, however, came from a more predictable source. With Desmond Haynes indisposed by a gammy knee, Mike Gatting offered a teasing hint as to his role next summer, opening with Mike Roseberry after Alastair Brown and Monte Lynch had clattered 83 from 11 overs to set up a target of 389 from 88 overs. While Gatting and Mark Ramprakash were adding 178 in 44 overs, the outcome looked a foregone conclusion.

Huffing and puffing tirelessly without threatening to blow the house down, Tony Pigott was alone in discomforting the second-wicket pair, the red stain under his right armpit adding a fresh dimension to the concept of ball-tampering.

Having seen off Roseberry with a vicious lifter - a decided rarity on a benign pitch - Pigott evidently believed he warranted an early leg-before verdict against the Middlesex captain, so much so that when Gatting promptly pulled him for four the pair reconvened in mid-pitch for a tete-a-tete not obviously long on pleasantries. Not until Gatting had acquired his sixth century of the term, the 82nd of his career and, surprisingly, his first against Surrey in the Championship since 1982, did Pigott balance the books.

Ramprakash fell 10 short of his second century of the match when bowled off the inside edge three overs later by Martin Bicknell, whereupon the fast-improving Paul Weekes crashed 46 off 39 balls before slicing Bicknell to slip. The impetus now shifted briefly to Surrey, seeking to avert their fifth defeat in six games, all the more so when Lynch sprang to his right at slip to unseat Keith Brown.

Mark Butcher soon clasped a stinging catch at cover to send back Haynes, at which point the PA announcer exhorted the crowd to render a vote of thanks, reasoning that they had just witnessed the Fabulous Bajan boy's final bow beneath the gas holders. Since the West Indies are due here next August, the sentiments seemed a trifle premature.

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