Cricket: Morris makes sure Surrey keep on suffering

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The Independent Online
Surrey 323 Durham 231-3

NOT MUCH is going right for Surrey these days. If John Morris was not swatting their lingering title hopes to the boundary in imperious style, then the rain was washing their Championship dreams down the storm drains at the Riverside complex.

Any smile on Dame Fortune's face must have been a cruel one, especially when Surrey heard that their match-winning off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq will not be available for the potential Championship decider with the leaders Leicestershire at The Oval next week.

Despite two weeks of negotiating, the Pakistan Board has insisted that Saqlain flies out to Toronto at the end of this match to join the rest of the squad for the Sahara Cup.

Saqlain misses the opening two matches of the limited-overs tournament since the Pakistan Board did grant Surrey the concession of playing him in this game when he was actually wanted by his country.

For all his usefulness to them in this campaign - he has taken 63 wickets this season - Adam Hollioake, the Surrey captain, appeared reluctant to make much use of the Pakistani, giving him four overs to date, relying on seam to try to stitch up Durham.

That suited Morris. He stuffed them out of sight with as fine an innings as he has played. He bombarded the weather-beaten fielders with an array of shots that deserved a greater stage. The two sixes and 18 fours which studded his 126-ball innings were just so many hard-driven nails deep into the Surrey coffin. It was the 47th first-class hundred of his career and his 12th for Durham.

For Surrey all that remains is the hope that some kind of a finish can be contrived with the connivance of David Boon to see if they can salvage a few more precious points. Since the former Australian Test batsman has only ever obliged with such declarations twice in two years, even that looks forlorn.

It is different for Durham though. After happenings elsewhere, namely Northamptonshire being docked 25 points, Durham, whose best place in the table in eight seasons since moving up a class, are 16th, now need one more point to guarantee them their highest finish in the Championship.

Surrey were lucky to pick up their solitary bowling point which arrived via Mark Butcher when he induced Mike Roseberry, playing with a chipped bone in his right thumb, to edge a delivery on to his leg stump. Earlier nightwatchman Mark Saggers' 70-minute stay was ended when Ben Hollioake found the edge and the wicketkeeper Jon Batty took a comfortable catch.