It was one of those days at The Oval when the ball swung and Worcestershire, who were put in, never found batting easy. After a rather laboured opening stand of 65, it was only the terrier-like qualities of Steven Rhodes that took them as far as 205.
It was no easier in the final 17 overs of the day, when James Brinkley, who has come to Worcestershire by way of Scotland and Australia, took the wickets of Alec Stewart, Darren Bicknell, David Ward and the nightwatchman James Boiling at a lively fast medium in his first Championship match. Surrey were 58 for 4 at the close and Brinkley's figures were 8-2-14-4.
Stewart judged the conditions well, although the greenish tinge to the pitch may have suggested that the ball would move about off the seam more than it actually did.
The two best Surrey bowlers were Mark Butcher and Martin Bicknell, both of whom swing the ball away from the right- hander. They took four wickets each, the first time Butcher has taken this many in a Championship match.
Joey Benjamin did not waste the conditions either and late in the morning brought one back from outside the off stump which had Tim Curtis lbw on the back foot. The other wicket was taken by the off-spinner James Boiling who bowled Phil Newport with a beauty which went on with his arm.
A fair slice of the honours had also to go to Rhodes, a veteran England hopeful just shy of 30. His was a most spirited response to a difficult situation. When he cover-drove Adam Hollioake after lunch for the first four in 28 overs and then hooked Butcher and pulled Benjamin, it was with a delightfully cheeky impudence.
Curtis and Philip Weston had put on 65 in the first 25 overs when Weston, aiming wide of mid-on, skied to mid-off from a leading edge. A short ball which left the bat found the edge of Graeme Hick's back- foot drive, Curtis was third out at 79 and Gavin Haynes square- cut the last ball of the morning to cover point.
While Rhodes did his best to hold the innings together in the afternoon, his only worthwhile partner was Stuart Lampitt who played one or two excellent strokes before edging Butcher to slip off the back foot.Reuse content