Cricket: Sorry end for Surrey

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Surrey 195 and 115

Sussex 344

Sussex won by inns and 34 runs

GRAHAM THORPE caught the virus that seems to attack the backbones of Surrey batsmen when he had scored 26, including five fours that made his exclusion from the England team look like Raymond Illingworth's biggest mistake.

Paul Jarvis was looking fierce, but Thorpe hooked him off his hip, drove straight, drove into the covers off front and back foot, and finally cut him square; four each time.

But wickets were falling fast, and with Surrey having subsided to 55 for five, Thorpe was facing Franklyn Stephenson making the most of a wicket that still had sap and zest in it.

Thorpe had not looked troubled, but now he hooked. Unlike all his boundaries, which were played scrupulously along the ground, this was extravagant and flew high towards the long-leg boundary, where it was caught by Martin Speight.

The only doubt then was whether the game would last beyond lunchtime. It didn't. At 1.15 pm precisely, Joey Benjamin edged Ed Giddins to first slip, and Surrey were all out for 115. They had lost to Sussex in only seven sessions.

Surrey have won three of their past six county games comfortably, and those victories were enough to keep them at the top of the table. Each time two of the batsmen got big scores. But in the other three games - against Somerset at Bath, Warwickshire at Guildford, and now here - none did, and the defeats were humiliating.

Of course, Surrey's batsmen are not going to succeed all of the time, but two of them have to score runs in every innings they play. That is what Warwickshire's batsmen have done this season, and it is the main reason why they moved ahead of Surrey in the table yesterday, and why they are likely still to be ahead at the end of the season.

Conditions were not easy for batting yesterday, but it was not the pitch which caused Stewart's dismissal. After scoring nought and one in his previous innings for Surrey and a subdued performance in the Lord's Test, he tried to bludgeon his way back into form, but mistimed a pull and was caught at wide mid-on for two.

David Ward was confused by Stephenson's slower ball. Darren Bicknell and Alistair Brown edged catches to the wicketkeeper. All looked disgusted. It was good to know they cared.

Only a few swishes and swirls from Tony Pigott got Surrey within range of 100, and the tail passed it. But in the pavilion the kindest word being used was 'wallies'. The only pity was the poor batting tended to diminish Stephenson's achievement. His five for 32 gave him memorable match figures of 11 for 82.

At the beginning of the season, Surrey's players were sent to a psychologist to help them improve their game. Clearly the shrink has not worked. Perhaps what they need now is a surgeon who will give them a collective backbone transplant.

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