Cricket: Damp day at Derby as cricket is caught out by the weather again

Surrey 267 Derbyshire 158-3 Match drawn
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TWO counties these days driven by Australian values succumbed again to the ravages of English weather after a fierce afternoon storm washed out any possibility of constructing a meaningful contest in what remained of an already abbreviated match.

After a briefly pleasant interlude on Friday had allowed a start following two days of total frustration, Derbyshire's reply to Surrey's first-innings 267 was granted only a 50-minute extension yesterday morning before the first of several downpours.

In that time, the home county moved from 113 for two to 158 for three, having lost their captain, Dean Jones, to a ball from Joey Benjamin that possibly surprised him with extra bounce, Graham Thorpe pouching a catch at first slip. Gul Khan, the 23-year-old former Oxford blue in his second summer on the Derbyshire staff, completed his maiden first-class half- century and finished unbeaten on 62.

The abandonment thus put paid to any hopes of one Australian coach gaining a feather in his cap at the expense of another. The influence of Dave Gilbert on Surrey's fortunes was a feature last season with which that of Les Stillman (and their compatriot, Jones) on Derbyshire made an interesting comparison.

Certainly, the Surrey camp could not think more highly of Gilbert who, in a remarkably short space of time, has introduced a common purpose into the Oval dressing-room.

"We've had some very good players over a number of years but we just weren't realising our potential as a team," their young captain, Adam Hollioake, said yesterday. "Dave has gone a long way towards changing that. He has helped people set themselves individual goals but made them realise their responsibility to the team at the same time."

Surrey ended last season with their first silverware since 1982 and although the Sunday League may be seen by some as little more than a consolation prize, it gave Hollioake and company a taste of success they wish to sample again.

Hollioake's elevation to the captaincy during the winter was probably hastened by the death of wicketkeeper Graham Kersey in a car crash, which left Alec Stewart with the prospect of keeping wicket full-time. When it comes to doing the job regularly, Hollioake said: "I have had a chat with Dave about it and he has told me to approach the job as I had in the past and hopefully my form will not suffer."