Cricket: Hancock holds up Surrey

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire 192-4 v Surrey

SURREY, like Essex, who were five-times champions in the 80s and early 90s, do everything at speed. The embryonic Championship leaders, with all their batting power, have employed the Essex tactic of scoring runs rapidly to give maximum time to dismiss the opposition twice.

Essex did it in three-day games. Surrey are now geared to that in a less demanding four, except that this match at Archdeacon Meadow suffered a first-day washout and was further blighted by no second-day play before lunch.

Undaunted, Surrey put in Gloucestershire. The scenario was clear: bowl out, make major total, bowl out again and win by something adjacent to an innings. Gloucestershire failed to co-operate.

On a former rubbish tip, which became the Kings School ground 13 years ago, Surrey were frustrated by a two-an-over advance in which Tim Hancock, Reading-born, made 75 before being bowled, curiously for someone who had batted for almost three hours, not offering a stroke to Joey Benjamin.

Gloucestershire, unusually, had omitted two batsmen, Dean Hodgson, averaging 10.5 after eight innings, and Simon Hinks. Bob Cunliffe, Oxford-born, educated in Bambury and a former England Under-19 batsman, was enlisted for his first-class debut, and, on a pitch assisting the seam bowlers, was swiftly caught, driving loosely outside the off stump.

After Hancock departed, having hit 11 fours, Bobby Dawson survived a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket first ball.

The day was built on perseverance but Gloucestershire were well pleased. Attrition was their initial step, followed by a sturdy advance to Tony Wright's strokeplay taking him to 47 not out, after Mark Alleyne was leg-before, well forward to Benjamin.

Cameron Cuffy bowled economically and Neil Kendrick took a stunning, two-handed catch low in the gulley to dismiss Chris Broad after the first 50 runs had occupied 28 overs. The tough got going and the just-as-tough anorak brigade watched.